Friday, October 30, 2009

My Other Inboxes

You have to get used to having multiple inboxes. Essentially, everyone is going to have a series of places where they keep things that need to be dealt with later.

I keep a list of my inboxes and how to process them so it forces me to work through the list.

Here's a more detailed version of what I do and how I do it.

1) Phone messages: My secretary has a little area where all my written phone messages are kept. I return the calls and then put the messages into the case file. If they don't have a case file, I file them under incoming calls.

2) Incoming Calls folder: These are calls from people who have not hired me. I call them back after a few days and ask them if there's anything else I can do to help them. After a week or so, I file those messages under "Old Calls". I never revisit "Old Calls" unless someone calls me and says, "I spoke to you a few months ago".

3) My wallet: I put receipts and business cards in here. I empty it out once a day into a folder for that month's expenses and another folder for business cards.

4) My desk: At the end of the day my desk is cluttered with numerous files that I've been working on. At the beginning of the day I clean it off and file everything.

5) Inbox/Outbox: My secretary and I each have a physical inbox where we put documents that the other person needs to address.

6) Briefcase: I empty my briefcase every day and make sure each document is dealt with.

7) Calendar: It's important to constantly look at my calendar so I know how to prioritize my work.

8) Home: I have a little table at home that I put all work things on that have managed to make it to my house. I put the work items in my briefcase and then process them at the office.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Empty Email Inbox

I receive dozens of emails a day. My email inbox typically says something like "showing 32 emails." This is because I repeatedly purge my inbox of emails on a regular basis.

Here's how I clean out my inbox

  • I delete pointless emails.
  • I archive emails that have even the scintilla of possible future use under any circumstances. (I can always search for words that might have appeared in the email later).
  • I act on emails if they fall within the two minute rule and then delete or archive them.
  • If something is going to take more than two minutes but needs to be dealt with on any time frame (by tomorrow, by the end of the week, by the end of the year) I file that email under the folder _FOLLOW UP.
  • If the email is interesting but I don't know when I'd address it (example: the title of an interesting book), I file it under _HOLD.
  • If there's nothing I can do with the email and I'm just waiting on someone else to do something, I file it under _WAITING ON.
  • If the email is associated with a specific broad project I will file it under that project. For example, all Marketing related emails are filed under "Marketing".