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Are you experimenting with email? Should you?

Reader Comments (2)

One striking feature of discussions of eMail is this: they rarely if ever give a solid operational definition of the task. I find it helpful to get a bit anal about this. Here's my definition:

Input: a random stream of mail
Process: read, note and file
Output: 1. a list of tasks 2. filed reference material

For me, the key is to separate out the responses from the reading. (I am a slow responder: If I responded to mail as I read it, I would never get clear.)

Here's my process, done in batches a couple of times a day:
1. copy inbox to "Process now" folder (HUZZAH!! INBOX ZERO!!)
2. work through "Process now"
- this is presented grouped by conversation, which immediately eliminates the majority of mails from consideration
- read the last mail of a conversation
- if I need to do anything else, drag to task list (as attachment if necessary) and tweak header. I use Mark Forster's DWM process for task management, so I add a due date one month out ("tab tab mo")
- read last mail of next conversation
3. copy contents of "Process now" to "Reference 2010", a backed up folder on my C drive.

And yes, I do have filters for urgent mails and mails from management, which get scanned more frequently. Sadly, we haven't got the "Do It Tomorrow" culture fully in place yet.

So mail management really isn't an issue for me. (50-100 work mails / day: ymmv)

Doing those pesky tasks, on the other hand...
October 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWill
Thanks for the detailed description, Will. I've not been keeping up with the productivity world, so DWM is new to me - http://www.markforster.net/blog/2010/2/1/dit2-af5-who-cares-what-its-called-this-is-what-im-working-o.html . Good work!
October 7, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatthew Cornell

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