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Friday, March 05, 2004

Surviving Email Overload 

Scoble talks about organizing you life through better inbox management. I never took the David Allen course he mentions, but I did take a different one.

I took a time management course several years ago (5+) that talked about the same thing: keeping your inbox clean. And, I've been doing it ever since. Typically, I have 5-10 email items in my inbox at any time. The rest are processed or filtered to appropriate folders (which I usually look through at the beginning and end of the day). Being on several high traffic mailing lists, it's impossible to look at every message right away so automated filters are a must for a clean inbox. However, I still try to keep most messages coming through my Inbox, so I can see the information and make a decision on what to do with it. And, I only look at new messages in my inbox every couple of hours.

Basically, as messages come in, I read them, then decide what type of message it is. Informational ones get placed into appropriate folders. If the response is quick, those messages are returned right away. If it's important and takes longer investigation but can still be done today, then it stays in the inbox (as a constant reminder). Things that take longer to respond to are made into Outlook tasks or appointments given specific completion dates and reminders. Everything else gets deleted.

That's usually the controversial part: deleting stuff. Lots of people worry about deleting stuff they may someday need. But, once you actually start doing that, you'll notice that you didn't really need it. And, if you saved everything but could never find it anyway, is it really even still on your system... :) Over the years that I've been practicing this, there have been a couple of times that I deleted a message I needed, but you can always ask the person to resend it (they're probably hoarding all of the emails anyway).

Now, what I need is a good system for organizing the RSS feeds that I'm watching and sifting through the important and the useless stuff that comes through...

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