How to NOT drown in your email?
Does your Inbox overwhelm you at
What about after returning from a vacation? When each morning I
used to dread opening my mail and together with this I noticed
how draining it was I started looking for a solution. Sound
With many of us there are things we could be managing
differently and take advantage of better ways to be more
efficient with our time which has become such a valuable
resource. Here is what I do with my mails which is an adapted
version of David Allen's GTD - getting things done. GTD has
many great ideas related to organization and management and its
worth checking out.
The first recommendation of GTD is NOT, again! NOT!!! to check
your mails every 3 minutes. (Also not every 5 minutes). You
should schedule time for checking mails. (This is obviously not
relevant for Support or service orientated professions where
the job requires continual checking of your mail.) If you are
using MS-Outlook and receiving a reminder with each incoming
mail, this can be somewhat distracting. Microsoft has many
great features, lets skip this one.
GTD recommends emptying your Inbox daily. There is a completely
different feeling when you start your day with a number of
emails instead of 100's or 1000's. (I worked with a client who
had 5000 emails.)
Here are the key foundations of GTD for better Email
DELETE: This means using the delete key a lot. The more and
more I use it the more I love it. It can take months and months
DO: When you read an email if you can reply to it in less than
2 minutes then do so. After this delete or file.
FILE: Move the email to a folder if you don't want to delete
@Action: This is the name of a top folder that when you read
the email and see that you cannot reply to it immediately as
you have things to check or do first then you can place it in
your action folder. It is important to make some time in your
schedule for working on your action emails and replying to
them. These mails are ones you have read but will attend to
@Wait: Its a waiting folder for when you have sent an email on
to someone and want to follow up to see if the have replied. I
use the stars feature in gmail instead.
@Read: This is where you drop all the mails that you would love
to read sometime.
So that's GTD for you - SO simple. Remember once you read
something in your Inbox it has to have one of 3 actions -
Delete, Do, File.
I personally love Gmail and use it with such pleasure. I highly
recommend their Google Calendar too.
Today I find that my Inbox IS empty at the end of the day. It
took me about 6 months to get into the new habits that GTD
recommends. It was well worth it.
By Samantha Amit, February 2010
Work Life Balance