Organisation makes all the difference

bit of a nerdy post, but i am quite proud of myself so i thought i would share it.

Today I realised the joy that is an empty in-box, and a system to keep it that way.

Yesterday I had over 200 emails in myMy Inbox In-box; never good I know, and usually I am so on the case about email. but you see i started a new job at the beginning of the year, and after a few months of email wobbles i was starting to get a grip of it all. but then my boss left, and I am now acting up and sort of doing two management jobs at once. My email has exploded last week i got 73 emails in 1 1/2 days. Not that i had to do things for each email, but i did have to think about each one. and that coupled with around 7 meetings set me back quite a bit.

So I decided I needed to take it in hand, Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in an amazingly long time, I took some work home. and i had an hour (that’s all it takes) of uninterrupted email sorting – and system making.

My System

Now it borrows a lot from Getting Things Done (doesn’t everything?). but seams as the all the plug-ins and what not are confusing when you haven’t read the book – I made my own system up. First I have Action which means i need to do something, then I have Chase-Up which means i need to see if someone else is doing something, then i have Review which means i need to read something, I have reference which is information i need to hand, and finally (for now) i have someday; which means i would be nice to have a chance to look at these things when everything else is done.

Now if you need to know the nerdy way i’ve done this, read on.

My FoldersI use to use flags in outlook, but the problem is – you need to be consistent with your colours (or have a post it note or something on your monitor) and I’m not – So I used categories – Categories lets you have as many things called whatever you like. so i have @Action, @ChaseUp, @Review, @Reference and @Someday (the @ sign pushes them to the top of the list). Then i have search folders, that find these categories all over my mail box – that is good because then i can still file things away under projects and other such things, but they remain in my lists. Then I have outlook set to put replies i send in the same folder as the email, this keeps everything neat.

My New In-box Regime

My In-box is now empty ! and from over 200 emails, I now have

  • 8 Actions
  • 8 things to chase up
  • 2 reference emails
  • 3 things to review
  • 7 things to look at someday

I can’t tell you how much lighter my head feels looking at that list, all i have to do now is keep-it light. the key to this is quick action, when emails arrive you need to do something:

Option one is reply and file, where possible reply as the email comes in, this works if you are being asked for information, or know where the email should go.

Then it’s label and file: if you can’t reply, pick a category and file away.

There is a third option which is simply file, I do actually get a lot of ‘for information’ emails, and they bypass all this and get filed. I know I should delete, but I’m a hoarder – baby steps first.