View Full Version : Email Tips - need more
12-29-2003, 03:07 PM
Happy New Year! I'm looking for any other ideas around organizing and processing email outside of GTD. Does anyone do anything out of the ordinary that gets them great returns?? I receive 150 email per day and looking for ways to be even more productive and efficient. All of you have been good for me the past couple of years. I'm looking towards you..."the experts" for even more help.
12-29-2003, 03:27 PM
if you use MS outlook --I'd get the GTD add in (sold on this site)
It really makes you "process " your in-box
Helped me a lot.
12-29-2003, 10:13 PM
In the past, I've also been "up to my eyeballs" in email. Are all of these 150 emails truly work related or do you have "like to see" items, such as forum responses, newsletters and the like dumped into your work email account? I found that setting up a separate email account for the forums, newsletters, etc significantly cut down on the emails I reviewed at the office. These emails were then work related and more critical and I process the email inbox per GtD.
The other email account I review during lunch or at home, a number of times a week. I found the majority of this stuff is non-critical. I read it if the subject catches my attention or I delete it.
01-04-2004, 06:08 PM
I also receive a large # of emails and have tried out various ways of managing the load, including a few inspired by GTD. Here's a brief summary. I'd be interested to hear further tips from other folks on this board:
1. Using filters & labels (but sparingly) - I've doing this for a couple of months and it's working really well. Basically, I've set up a filter to label any emails sent directly To: me (as opposed to anything sent to an alias to which I'm a member) and highlight that email in my Inbox in red. Then, if I only have a few ninutes to parse email, I filter for those emails only and tackle only those in e.g. 5 minute gaps between meetings. (I also have another filter for cc: me and another when my boss sends email to our team alias.). This method has ensured that no important emails fall through the cracks. What happens throughout the month is that the other emails start to pile up inevitably (even with the 2 minute rule below) so at the end of the month, I either set aside time to deal with them, or delete them.
2. Apply the GTD 2-minute rule. Arguably, this has yielded the biggest benefits, i.e. if the email can be dealt with in 2 minutes or less (or another time period, depending on how much time I have to parse email), just do it and get it out of the way. If it takes more than 2 minutes, I move it to a folder and add it to my GTD action tracking list.
3. Since applying the GTD techniques, I've dropped the following approach, but it used to work fairly well in terms of keping my inbox managable at the expense of some stuff falling through the cracks - at the end of every month, I moved my complete inbox into archive folder. I'd keep the last 3 months worth in case I got time to go back to the email (e.g. on a plane journey) but then delete the whole archive, even if the stuff was unread.
4. Set aside a define time to parse email. Sounds simple, but it's harder than it sounds. I _hate_ being driven by email, so I try to set aside alloted times to deak with it. this tends to be work day evenings (oh, the benefits of wireless!) and very early mornings. And Sunday evenings....so back to email!
01-04-2004, 07:24 PM
OK. I live and die by email. My system is pretty simple to me and is mostly based on roles. Few people will have setups like mine but I'll share what I do anyway in hopes that others can pick up something usefull.
I have a different email address for each of my roles.
- Address1 is used for the discussion lists to which I subscribe
- Address2 is for one side business in which I am a part owner
- Address3 is for my personal email and my primary side business
- Address4 is for my full-time job
Remember the workflow process (Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do) This arrangement allows me to keep everything separated so that the COLLECTION part is done automatically. I PROCESS and ORGANIZE each Inbox differently.
Address1 - Subscribed discussion lists
- All items are filtered based upon the subject line. I have a folder set up for each group to which I subscribe and the emails automatically go to the rght folder. I catch up on each group one at a time. Most posts I just read and I'm done with. If I want to reply, and I have time, I do so right then. I usually review my group email in the evenings as relaxation so I know that I have some time and don't have to follow the "two-minute rule". If something I read inspires a Next Action it goes on my NA list. If something inspires a project, a NA of "Plan xxxxxx Project" goes on the list. This is a free Yahoo! email account.
Address2 - Partner side business
- I check this mailbox each morning and each evening. Most emails must be replied to and most of the replies are form responses. This is essentially a customer service role. I use a program called TypeItIn to store my form responses. With this tool, most emails can be answered in 30-seconds or less. Once I have replied to an email I move it to an appropriate folder for reference. My partner also uses this Inbox. Messages that are best answered by the other partner are left in the Inbox. We keep the inbox clean except for anything that needs a response. We use a web based email client for this. If a message inspires a Next Action it goes on my NA list. If something inspires a project, a NA of "Plan xxxxxx Project" goes on the list.
Address3 - Personal email and primary side business
- I check this mailbox several times a day, usually from a web based client. If something requires an immediate reply I will do it then. Otherwise it waits until that evening or the next morning when I bring the email into my desktop client. Once I reply to a message, the original is either deleted or moved to an appropriate folder for future reference. (Each client has their own folder.) The inbox should be empty. About half of these emails are "read and delete" or "read and file". For the rest if an email inspires a Next Action it goes on my NA list. If something inspires a project, a NA of "Plan xxxxxx Project" goes on the list.
Address4 - Full-time job
- When I get in the office each morning I empty my inbox one message at a time. About 80% of these are "read and delete messages". For those that require action I add an item on my Next Actions list. If I will need the information in the email to perform the next action, or I will need to reply when I have completed the next action, I move it to a folder called "Current Projects". (This folder does have sub-folders for bigger projects, but most stuff goes in the root folder. I clean out this folder during my weekly review.) Since most of this email is "read and delete" I will check it many times during the day and follow this process. For the most part, it stays empty and should be totally empty when I leave each evening and shortly after I arrived in the morning.
- The COLECTION PHASE is all done automatically based upon roles and or filters. All that is left for me to do is to PROCESS each inbox which typically follows the work-flow diagram and the "two-minute rule". I used to use my inboxes as holding folders and I stayed overwhelmed. Now they stay empty and Next Action list stays up to date. I have no stress associated with my email inboxes.
01-05-2004, 11:42 AM
I have three accounts--one for personal, one for my consulting business, and one for the university where I work with graduate students. I found that setting up the files (just like file folders) helped me tremendously. I check email at the university five or six times per day and either deal with it immediately or file it. I was receiving 100 or more emails a day, and was stuck with too many in the in box. I started last January with my goal of never having more than 20 in my inbox (those were pending to be dealt with). After five months, including getting accustomed to the filing of emails, I set a new goal of keeping my inbox empty. It has worked for the last seven months. Anything that I may need later, I simply copy to myself, and immediately file in the appropriate folder. It worked so well on campus that I do the same with my consulting. I have never been more organized with email, and my students and customers are amazed that I respond quickly, accurately, and can always find old information as needed.
01-07-2004, 01:18 AM
I try to keep up to date at least daily.
I tend to move (drag and drop) emails direct to NA lists, grouped by context. (i.e. drag to the agenda context, type in the header "Name: action" and save)
In slack moments, I leave the mail in the inbox. Then I have to mass file. I find that it is easier to do this if the inbox is grouped by sender. Takes about 10 minutes to file a couple of hundred (actioned) mails.
I have a limited number of file folders. Again, I tend to group these by sender.
I use the grouping box in both my task and inbox windows to easily flick between groupings. <alt>VXP is a handy string of keystrokes!
01-11-2004, 07:15 PM
Managing Incoming E-mail: What Every User Needs to Know (http://www.goodexperience.com/reports/e-mail/) by Mark Hurst, @ GoodExperience.com, has some excellent tips. [/url]
01-11-2004, 07:16 PM
Managing Incoming E-mail: What Every User Needs to Know (http://www.goodexperience.com/reports/e-mail/) by Mark Hurst, @ GoodExperience.com, has some excellent tips.