By Matt Adams on February 27, 2008
If you are like me, you probably live in your email. Its a monster at times. But great management of your inbox can be an amazing thing.
Recently someone shared a great video from Merlin Mann speaking at Google with me. Its a long one, but great. If you are familiar with the books by David Allen Getting things Done, or Ready for Anything, you’ll understand where this is coming from.
I wanted to share the video, but also share some of my take home points, since its 50 minutes long.
- Your email is simply a medium for communication. Keep it that way
- Process all emails to zero. Sort, store and apply actions each time you check your mail
- Decide in the moment you check an email what that next action is
- checking email is not enough.
- Think of email as working at a deli, taking orders for customers. Taking the order isn’t enough, it requires an action, an order to be fulfilled. Different orders require different actions.
- Define a certain number of possible outcomes for each email. Merlin Mann’s 5 are: Delete, Delegate, Respond (in under 5 sentences), Defer for later action, and Do Now.
- Dont be afraid of junking or Deleting emails. If no action is needed, and move on
- Keep your system simple
- Your inbox is for stuff you havent read yet. thats it
- a PDA or Blackberry will not help if you dont have a system
- Make this process a habit
Quick tips for keeping the process going
- Turn off the email while working on other things
- Limit the time you check your email (like for 10 minutes each hour) and move on
Overall this is common sense. But I find it hard to keep up with.
I have been trying these things so far:
- Only checking and responding to yesterdays mail
- Set up smartFolders to sort certain types of emails
- Only checking emails once an hour for fires to be put out, If there are no fires, I move on.
- Using a to do list for action items
- I am trying to keep on my 5 actions for all emails
So what do you think? Are you trying anything on this list, or anything different?