Thursday, July 26, 2007

Inbox Zero

Merlin Mann of 43Folders fame has a philosophy called Inbox zero. He gave this talk at the Google campus in July 2007. It's worth a listen, but if you don't have time, his advice boils down to dealing with your inbox everyday. Every mail gets one of 5 things done to it:
  1. Delete (or Archive) - Don't spend a lot of time on building archive folders. Use built-in search capabilities to find things
  2. Delegate (Forward to someone else)
  3. Respond (keep it short) - Appropriate response length is good. My comment is to put important content into the subject.
  4. Defer (Put into a pending folder) - something that you check periodically to see if it has resolved. I use flags in Outlook to keep track of my deferred actions
  5. Do or capture a placeholder for it (such as a calendar or a task)

General principles:
Do email less (unless of course your job is real-time)
Do email on a schedule. Turn off mail arrival signals, then once per hour process it using the above five actions. Go back to work.
Filter junk email (especially spam, but also those non-critical listserv notes, etc.)
Don't fiddle - focus on getting your stuff done, not playing with your email organization

Take this advice and be productive.

1 comment:

Tony Kenck said...

Just a followup note. If you use ergonomic software, such as workpace, you can key your email handling to your rest breaks. For example, wehn the break ends, go to mail, process it and move on.