View Full Version : Getting Control of Email -- AAAAAAHHHH!
05-07-2007, 08:37 PM
Hello GTD Friends!
My biggest, most challenging problem is my email. I currently have 2900+ "unread" emails...I subscribe to several news subscriptions that I try to read often, and of course, all the other emails that either relate to projects, NAs, etc..... Help! How and where do I begin?
05-07-2007, 10:29 PM
You heard what the man said...print them out and put them in your inbox!
Uh...or delegate them, that's what I'd do. :)
(This flippant response will surely be followed by much more sensible advice...)
05-08-2007, 12:16 AM
I have a couple of subscriptions as well that provide a constant flow of email. For each of these I have a folder in outlook and a rule to push them straight into the designated folder on arrival. This way, my Inbox remains just my standard everyday work emails.
Reviewing these subscriptions is an action to be completed for me but is not the highest priority.
05-08-2007, 12:59 AM
I currently have 2900+ "unread" emails...I subscribe to several news subscriptions that I try to read often, and of course, all the other emails that either relate to projects, NAs, etc.....
Move all the unread e-mails from your inbox to the archive folder (create new folder - for example Archive20070507). Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe. Keep your inbox clean - use Del key as often as you can.
05-08-2007, 02:21 AM
Have you ever got your inbox to zero? If you've got it to zero and you still end up with thousands of unread emails, then it could simply be that you're over-committing and taking on too much.
Like the previous post said, delete where possible and unsubscribe and use filters to automatically delete/file emails you don't need to read.
05-08-2007, 05:30 AM
Move all the unread e-mails from your inbox to the archive folder
OR - move all but today's unread e-mails from your inbox to the archive folder. You haven't lost any emails, but they're out of your way.
Then start processing in to empty (Chapter 6)
Glance through the last couple of weeks of emails to see if there are any you need to deal with. You probably already know which ones they are. Process those.
Then you can just deal with the new ones daily, or a couple of scheduled times a day. You can chip away at the backlog, if you think you need to. Most likely you can ignore it.
Whenever you feel like you need to keep an email in your inbox, stop and figure out why and decide what you need to do so you can move it out of your inbox. Create the Next Action, Flag the email, move it to the archive.
If you are getting more subscription emails than you can read in a reasonable amount of time a day, decide whether an unread email is better or worse than no email.
Once you get to an empty in-box, you'll want to keep it.
05-08-2007, 05:35 AM
I currently have 2900+ "unread" emails...I subscribe to several news subscriptions that I try to read often, and of course, all the other emails that either relate to projects, NAs, etc..... Help! How and where do I begin?
Here's where you begin. ;) These handy links to (blessedly short) articles (the second is a series of about 6 or 8 articles) from the Magical Merlin Mann of 43 Folders fame give you lots of good email tricks. Read them and think as you go.
A couple of thoughts from me:
1) When do you think you'll have time to read all of those 2900 unread emails? If you plan to read them, schedule a time, or blocks thereof. If you can't imagine ever having enough time, then let them go. If you can't bring yourself to delete, then drop them in an archive folder: if you still haven't read them in x weeks or months, delete them and unsubscribe, because clearly these lists are not that important for you.
2) Oh, hell, I'd unsubscribe from a lot anyway. I once subscribed to a whole bunch of lists in a fit of enthusiasm, and they just mounted up and I never got around to reading them. Delete, unsubscribe, and the world's a happier place.
3) Once you've dumped those 2900 somewhere, process your Inbox to zero every day. Use the standard GTD processing to do it, delegate it, defer it, or drop it.
4) Check your email at most once or twice a day. Really. Leave it alone the rest of the time and get on with your real work. Unless you're on the response team, nothing gets that urgent.
Hope that helps.
05-08-2007, 12:09 PM
I would strongly recommend subscribing to RSS feeds using a news reader rather than receiving news via email. (In other words, unsubscribe all those news emails.)
To the extent that it's possible, limit email to essential communications--and get a really good spam filter. If you have a lot of "optional" stuff coming into email, you're likely to feel overwhelmed and miss the important stuff.
Think of email as the computer equivalent of a phone. You wouldn't want to receive 20 calls a day from an automated voice reading the news.
Think of RSS feeds as the equivalent of television and radio--there whenever you want to tune in, but no need to worry about it if you don't have time.
05-08-2007, 12:37 PM
I second the recommendation for RSS feeds. Go get the information when you want it, don't let it randomly dump on your head.
For newsletters and mailing lists that don't have RSS feeds, you can still get them out of your main inbox and out of your way. Use filters to shunt them to a separate folder that you can skim through when you have the time and interest. If you have to, use a separate email address entirely. (A second email address is also handy if you get mail from lists that have ads embedded -- such as Yahoo Groups mail. You can make sure the mailing list gets to you, without relaxing the spam filters on your main address.)
I also second the recommendation that you just archive most of the backlog and move on. If you really must, sort it by sender and see if there are any serious fires smoldering there, but don't let the backlog become an albatross. (Or more of one than it already is.)
05-09-2007, 05:55 AM
Another email tip - create a second email address for list email - I use a second gmail address specifically for list emails. This way, you aren't even aware of the list mails pouring in until you consiously decide to look at them. Also, gmail is (and I'm sure the other web mail services are) fantastic for spam handling and I don't mind if it's a bit more aggressive than my private email.
05-09-2007, 06:54 AM
Nothing new in this post, just another vote for:
1) move the backlog out of your inbox,
2) process your email inbox to empty every day,
3) chip away at the backlog as a project, if necessary.
From experience, I can tell you this will lift a huge weight off of your shoulders.
05-11-2007, 07:16 PM
Great tips from everyone else. I'd just add:
o For those subscriptions that require email (i.e., no RSS feed), use Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) - it lets you create custom email addresses for each subscription, but they show up as feeds. *Very* handy for getting them out of "IN."
o I recommend to clients the following articles for working on your backlog:
Getting your Inbox to Empty: Dealing with the first email purge (http://www.genuinecuriosity.com/genuinecuriosity/2005/08/getting_your_in.html)
Declare Email Bankruptcy (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.08/howtodesk.html) (scroll down)
Best of luck! Email's a toughie.