I am a great believer in keeping the inbox to a minimum, although I have to confess that the utopia of inbox zero is yet to be realised, consistently at least. I would think we all realise that having 1528 emails in our inbox is just not going to help us to be productive. How could it? GTD is so simple but somehow the effectiveness still evaded me when it came to my inbox. That is until I realised what I was doing wrong….
- Two minute rule – This rule still applies of course. That is to say, you get a new email in and if you can respond to it within two minutes, then do it.
- Created a folder for @NEXT ACTION, @DEFERRED and @WAITING FOR – Straight from GTD, create three folders.
- Allocate emails to the right folder – Emails comes in but this time I can’t action it within the two minutes. I now need to park it somewhere as I need to process my whole inbox and get that utopia. The question is then how quickly it needs an action. If it is urgent then it goes into the @NEXT ACTION folder. If however it is less urgent but still important then it lands in the @COMING UP folder. Then, you guessed it, those others ones might go to the @WAITING FOR. That is to say I have delegated the task to someone or the next action is simply with someone else.
- Flag an item for Follow Up – This for me was the missing key. I have tried to use the folder above before and that with the intention to check each of these folders . Obviously the NEXT ACTION folder would be reviewed more regularly. Truthfully though I did not find it to work. That is until I realised the Follow Up option. Using Outlook as an example, along the top you will have the Follow Up menu. Here with 2 mouse click you can flag the message and generate an automatic reminder for Today, Tomorrow, This Week etc. Setting these before moving the item to my folder works a treat – fire and forget. I don’t have to check them and get distracted but rather at the right time I will now be reminded to action the email.