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Starting with GTD: My e-mail

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  • Starting with GTD: My e-mail

    I read and re-read Getting Things Done a couple of times before trying out a few thing.

    The first thing I did was to junk all of my Outlook Rules. Now, I know this sounds scary to some people, but this is my personal e-mail which doesn't generate as much traffic as my work e-mail does. To show you how screwed up my e-mail is, I had e-mails that needed some action taken on them from two years ago at the bottom of my Inbox screen! Shameful!

    I created "!Actionable" and "!Waiting On" and proceeded to go through each e-mail, using David's methods to determine if I needed time to finish the action required, could do it immediately, or was it just something that needed filing such as a receipt.

    After I did all that, I had cut my e-mails down by half. Then I set aside an hour to go through my actionable items and did them all. My Inbox is empty. Now, I don't use rules. I let everything go to Inbox, I delete what I'm not going to read, do what can be done immediately and send the rest to "!Actionable" until my set aside action time.

    I also just received my leather Inbox from Levenger. I figure if I'm going to do the Inbox thing, it should be one that is sturdier and looks better than the black plastic ones from Staples. I've had it for a week and it's been working quite well. It's like what Julie Morgenstern says about things having a home. Stuff that needs to be dealt with now has a home and it's getting done. I love it.

    Next step, the Circa binder.

    Jeff

  • #2
    Originally posted by jhitchin View Post
    The first thing I did was to junk all of my Outlook Rules. Now, I know this sounds scary to some people, but this is my personal e-mail which doesn't generate as much traffic as my work e-mail does.
    Not scary at all! Since I have to look at every incoming mail, it is me who should decide what is it and where it should go, not some automated rules, be it personal mail or work mail. And since I am going to look at them all, I find it better to let them arrive at a single place: the inbox.

    Regards,
    Abhay

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    • #3
      Originally posted by abhay View Post
      Since I have to look at every incoming mail, it is me who should decide what is it and where it should go, not some automated rules, be it personal mail or work mail.
      Abhay,

      I'd have to disagree, or rather amend

      I have to look at every incoming mail eventually.

      I use rules to sort out those that require reading sooner, rather than later. For example, I know that I'm current as of Thursday evening with all the email sent to me personally. Those emails that I get as part of group? Well, I'm probably about a week behind... but it doesn't matter, since are mostly "FYI" messages anyway.

      - Don

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      • #4
        I agree that email rules can be incredibly useful. I'm subscribed to a local Freecycle list (a group of folks who give away their unused stuff) which generates 70-100 emails a day. Those all are filtered to a separate folder via a rule. Most of the time, I delete everything in this folder every day, because I'm neither getting rid of anything or looking for anything. At other times, I'll watch it more closely.

        I filter everything else into folders, which I find helps me to switch context appropriately. I'll still process every email every day, but I like being able to deal with certain kinds of email all at once. So, at work, I have a folder just for email from my boss or others on my immediate team. I read and answer those first.
        Last edited by Brent; 01-03-2009, 09:42 AM. Reason: Fixed typo

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        • #5
          Jhitchin, congratulations on your hard work. It sounds like you are making tremendous progress.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Brent View Post
            I agree that email rules can be incredibly useful. I'm subscribed to a local Freecycle list (a group of folks who give away their unused stuff) which generates 70-100 emails a day. Those all are filtered to a separate folder via a rule. Most of the time, I delete everything in this folder every day, because I'm neither getting rid of anything or looking for anything. At other times, I'll watch it more closely.
            That makes total sense. I don't belong to any e-mail lists like that so not using rules now is fine for me. At work, I get mail from our build lab which is just status to let me know that a build has started, and I really only need to know when one code line is being built, but we have fifteen, so I get a lot of useless e-mail, so that gets filtered via a rule, and I can quickly scan for a keyword, then delete the whole lot of them in one fell swoop.

            I'll be trying out some more of these techniques once I go back to work on Monday.

            Jeff

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jhitchin View Post
              The first thing I did was to junk all of my Outlook Rules. Now, I know this sounds scary to some people, but this is my personal e-mail which doesn't generate as much traffic as my work e-mail does.
              I use e-mail rules to sort all the mail from the many lists I am on to the appropriate folders. I use apple e-mail right now was on Eudora for years. I find that I can then batch my reading of those lists for when I want to deal with each specific list input. I typically get 300-400 messages a day. All but about 10 of those are list traffic so sorting them only makes sense to me.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dschaffner View Post
                Abhay,

                I'd have to disagree, or rather amend

                I have to look at every incoming mail eventually.

                I use rules to sort out those that require reading sooner, rather than later. For example, I know that I'm current as of Thursday evening with all the email sent to me personally. Those emails that I get as part of group? Well, I'm probably about a week behind... but it doesn't matter, since are mostly "FYI" messages anyway.

                - Don
                No question of disagreeing! I am talking about myself I used filters earlier to sort emails into folders, but it turned out that I didn't visit the rest of them except inbox as frequently as I would like to. Now when I receive everything in inbox, even those items which I could read later on, I decide that while processing the inbox. For list subscriptions, I just need to quickly glance over the mail to get the topic, and then save it manually into some kind of 'to-read-at-leisure' folder. Takes about three seconds, but this way I delete many such mails right away! Of course it's a personal preference; nothing right or wrong about it.

                Regards,
                Abhay

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                • #9
                  There are several folders that I have set up into which I automatically send new emails from particular people. The most important folders are "customers", "bus dev", and "staff" which I visit first. Then I go to my inbox to process. I usually clean my inbox diligently though, since there are always a few new emails in there for current projects. I also have a personal folder which I should be looking at last if I'm at work, but you know how that goes.

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                  • #10
                    Unread Mail Search Filter - Exchange / Outlook environment

                    I have rules that drop incoming email into various buckets (subfolders in my inbox) to help prioritize processing. As a generalization though I keep my view on the "Unread Email" search filter sorted by folder. This way I have the best of both, when I'm really on top of my inbox I work from this view, I can also use the collapse feature if I want to narrow my focus. When I get behind due to meetings, days off, etc, I can drop into the individual folders and bulk process.
                    -Ben

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