If you’re feeling defeated by e-mail than you should look into Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero system for handling e-mail. You can find information on his blog, 43Folders.com, and his book site, Inboxzero.com. It’s more complex than I intend to describe it here, but it’s what I’ve ussd for years now and it works.
For me Inbox Zero breaks down to two major points:
1. Designate the Times When You Look at Your E-mail
You have to define when you sessions will occur and you have to force yourself into sticking to that schedule. Whether it be once at night, once in the morning, or two times a day, stick to it. Disable the push e-mail on your phone because 9/10 e-mail isn’t pressing. Any pressing matter will be brought to your attention via another communication method.
2. Always Process Your E-Mail Down to Zero
Yes, this is right. Clear out your e-mail eithwr semi-daily or daily. The problem most people is that they treat their e-mail like a to do list and live in their e-mail. Take your life out of e-mail. Get a To-Do list manager, app, or pen and paper. Add events to your calendar, add tasks to your to do lists, and archive appropriately if you choose to or preferably use a notes app. Store information in something like Evernote. Inbox Zero is about living life and you can’t if you’re consumed by e-mail.
For most the word project carries an educational connotation. From a productivity standpoint though, a project can be any related number of tasks. Defining tasks in terms of projects helps in two ways that I value. First, understanding tasks as projects can help you focus. One of the most common causes of inefficiency is just intending to deal with a large number of things at the same time. I don’t believe in multi-tasking and I’ll talk more about multi-tasking in the future. The idea is that there’s a delay in shifting from one task to another. Mindsets don’t change instantaneously though you might want to believe that. Second, arranging tasks as projects helps to determine how urgent tasks are. One of the number causes of inefficiency is not putting weight on those projects that are actually important. For example, E-MAIL is almost always never your most urgent or important task. Think about it. Who makes a living from dealing with e-mail? Is e-mail more important than the duties of your position or job? E-mail will also be a topic that I’ll probably talk more about it. The takeaway from this post is that the idea of projects is a very important one and a project is simply an series of related tasks. Think about your tasks in the coming week and see if you can group them. In grouping them you might learn something about yourself.