Neck to neck with the daily meetings, email will absolutely kill your day, if you get sucked into it the way many of us do. Just take a look at my RescueTime data from 2009 below. Email was by far the most time consuming activity of the year. Imagine spending 15 days straight writing and reading emails. That about sums up 2009 for me, spread across 365 days.
Here’s another view of the same picture:
Here’s How I Broke the Pattern:
I TERRIBLY DISLIKE the font Times New Roman, so as a Google Apps (Gmail) user I send and receive email almost exclusively from Outlook. Microsoft Outlook allows me to create RULES, which I have several for. Based on those rules, my emails get distributed to respective folders. My new Inbox is actually a folder called “_Inbox Contacts” so essentially I only see email from contacts that are on my priority list. Everyone else gets sent to a specific folder or they stay in my default Inbox which I can look at when I have time (maybe once a day). Here’s my folder/rule layout:
- _Inbox Contacts
- _Web Analytics [aka: Ranking & Google Analytics Reports]
- Completed Emails
- Personal Emails [aka: Friends & Family]
- Reputation [Google/Yahoo! Alerts for my name]
- Not Important
- Stuff I Want [Special Offers I Want to Use Later]
- Stuff to Blog About
The underscores allow the folders to be listed at the top of the list. When an email comes in from a client or someone important (you’re all important, just some of you pay me to put you first), you get sent directly to _Inbox Contacts by my Outlook rule.
When I’m done with an email (replied, took action or whatever), I move the email to Completed, so that I can refer to it again later if needed.
My friends and family (non-business) get sent to my Personal folder, since I know those aren’t urgent. Family will use SMS or just call me, so most of these are jokes or whatever.
My reputation is important to me, so I have alerts on StepRep, Google Alerts, Yahoo! Alerts and a few other places that automatically go to my Reputation folder.
Newsletters, emails, special offers, and subscriptions I want to keep go to Not Important. As do my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other alerts I choose to keep on.
Stuff I Want is a folder I move stuff into (mostly from Not Important). Currently fermenting there are emails from Bellagio Las Vegas for a special price on rooms, SES San Francisco early bird registration (which I guess I have to delete now that the offer expired), and 25% discount on a PRWeb.com press release.
Don’t Let Email Kill Your Day
Get organized, remove unnecessary notifications, and unsubscribe from anything you know you’re not going to need. Filters and Rules are a great way to stay organized, and to be honest, I can hit Ctrl+A on my keyboard and hit Delete when I’m in the Not Important folder about 95% of the time.