I encourage you to spend an hour of your time watching Merlin Mann give a talk at Google about managing e-mail. (Video for Merlin's "Inbox Zero" talk, 7/25/07). The good folks at Google don't waste a lot of time on numbskulls, and this guy's got an amazing approach to solving your e-mail inbox woes.
By watching the "43 folders" presentation, I spent an hour of my life saving exponentially more down the line by LEARNING about how to manage my e-mail. Inbox Zero is the source.
One citation that Merlin made was about David Allen, and his book - Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity he talks about "Advanced Common Sense" - it could not be any more obvious, but the trouble is we don't always do the obvious.
Processing - that is, doing something, isn't about checking your e-mail, it's about taking action on every e-mail, from deleting it, to responding to it. Yet, the next step is to not respond to 200 e-mails, it's processing them, and decide what it means to you - what actions do I have to take as a result of this e-mail?
Five things can you do with the e-mail:
- Delete (or archive)
- Forward/Delegate (give yourself a reminder to make sure the delegated task happened)
- Defer - this can be tricky
- Do - if it's something you can do, do it now.
Now, watch the video.
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