Clutter busters

June 7th, 2011  |  Handy hints, Time management  |  1 Comment

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three – Alice Kahn.

Here’s some honest questions that deserve honest answers:

  1. Do you use your inbox as your driver for work?
  2. Do you think you can turn your email off for an hour?
  3. Have you thought that perhaps it’s actually ok to be a slave to your email inbox?

There is an age old story of an architect trying to put a pathway through a garden between two new buildings. Instead of prescribing the path and forcing people to go where he thinks they should go he watches and he waits. Over several weeks people have created natural trodden paths – in fact two perhaps three paths emerge.

What I am trying to say here is that we forget to pay attention to the way we use things – Email is no exception – more and more it is becoming our major application that we keep open and which helps us drive our daily work priorities. It’s how we have come to work naturally and all we need to do is use a few tricks to manage our information and workflow.

It is actually fun to turn the email off for an hour a day. If someone wants you that urgently maybe they will remember your phone number after all. Or maybe even come to your desk and talk to you.

Use the features of your mailbox to set up rules and do things like: automatically receive emails from people to set folders, on that note set up your folders with a naming structure that makes sense – use project numbers or categories to help you sort information into meaningful labels.

  1. Sort your mail from oldest to newest regularly to see who you have missed – why do you give more preference to the latest email than to the one who emailed you a couple of days ago?
  2. Sort your email using FROM or by SUBJECT – what have you missed?
  3. Care about what you write in subject lines – ask your work colleagues, friends, family etc to ALWAYS write a subject line that tells you the gist of the content in the body of the email. We all scan our inbox and looking at meaningful subject lines is so much nicer. Fess up how many times have you seen a subject line that has FW;FW:FW:FW:FW;FW:FW:FW
  4. Do you really need to send an email and copy people in? Have you thought about using Instant Messaging with all key people you work with so you don’t have to deal with email data that is perhaps social or where you don’t need to keep a record of the content? Once you create an email you have to do something with it – store it – delete it … etc. You can use IM with some of your internal systems or look at gmail and skype.
  5. If you can spend the last fifteen minutes of your day doing a clutter buster – file your emails into folders sort through the items, delete, delete, delete – well won’t that halo suddenly appear above your head and make you smile.


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  1. Toshia Camisa says:

    October 16th, 2011at 6:49 am(#)

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