|Beth Kanter, like me just back from vacation, was fretting over the inbox clutter she returned to, and posted a link to an interesting piece in my home-town paper by Jeffrey Zaslow on in-box management styles and personal productivity. I've been enjoying new-found control over my correspondence I switched to using Google's gmail as my email client - and Beth, an MS Outlook user, asked me to share a few words about my approach to email management using gmail. I'm never sure whether these personal musings on how one guy works are of any use to anyone, but here they are.|
First a mini-review of the Google product. All I can say is that it is the sleekest and most efficient email interface I've worked with. Among its innovative features:
Minimize disruption. First of all, I shut off the notifier whenever I need to concentrate - when I am programming, or writing something that takes a lot of concentration. I hate being constantly interrupted while I am trying to think.
Tag automatically. I have set up a lot of filters to label my mail automatically as it arrives. For example all my mail from clients arrives with the proper client label already in place. I try to label other mail as I read it, to avoid having a big classification project later. I delete anything I am not going to read even if I do not want to flag it as spam - newsletters I sometimes read, for example, but am not going to have time for this week. I don't worry about tagging everything I save since its so easy to get it back by searching for sender or any word in the text.
A morning email review session. Each morning, I review my inbox, and immediately archive everything that I have already responded to, or which requires no response. So I keep a pretty short inbox - maybe 50 conversations items max. I star important things I will want to look at again in the next few days. Then I check the entire starred list to see what can be unstarred. I use this daily review to remember what I did the day before, remind myself of promises I have made for today, and add them to my to-do list. Many emails take time to respond to - I put these tasks on my to-do list, rather than just falling into them. I also use the email review to remind myself of small billable items I have done for a client that I might otherwise forget, and get those timeslips logged. Ya gotta eat!
Sharing email. Another thing I do during my email review session is cut and paste emails that should become part of our office knowledgebase into our project tracking system, so that the information is not mine alone. Making the proper emails sharable is an important part of email management in a collaborative working environment. Note to Google: I'd love to see a team email system with a share flag to make an email sharable to by all members of a group.
Downloading. Since this is a web-based service, there is no issue of where you download your mail. You can check it all, even the archived mail, from any pc on the internet. But since gmail is POP-compliant, you can download it perioidically to Outlook or Thunderbird as a backup. I do it now and then.
Mobile Gmail. Gmail has a mobile interface designed for the small screen. I can check my mail on my Treo at any time. I can even archive and label from the treo, so there is no need to let my inbox become a mess when I'm travelling.
Tagged: nptech, productivity, email, gmail