Archive for the ‘Email’ Category

Replying to Every Email

April 1, 2008

I can’t quite recall where I read this suggestion, but I have been trying it out and it seems to work.

It’s very simple – for every important piece of email, send a reply, even a short one, to say one of the following messages:

  1. Thanks
  2. It’s received and will be acted on and here’s the promised due date
  3. To ask a question

I think that this is a great suggestion, and the idea is to delete the email once a reply has been sent. I’m experimenting with this approach to see what comes of it, once again with the goal of achieving a Zero Inbox.

Blackberry Insanity

March 12, 2008

blackberry31.jpgNew devices make it easier than ever for professionals to get stuck in unproductive activities that damage their peace of mind.

One of the more destructive habits that they enable is the ability to check email at all times during the day and night. In the thinking of the 2Time Management system, it enables a user to Capture all the time.

While this is very convenient, it’s a little like having a cell phone nearby all the time. Most of us have learnt that a ringing cell does not need to be answered just because it is ringing. This is a sure-fire way to at the least a drop in productivity, and at the very most, a certain insanity.

In other words, having the ability to download email at any moment only means that one must be more disciplined in capturing, not less, in order to preserve one’s productivity. (more…)

Manage that Exploding Inbox

February 25, 2008

An article with the above name was published in the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner on February 17th, and can be found at the following link:

http://go-jamaica.com/jobsmart/view_article_details.php?id=221

It echoes many of my thoughts on the topic.

The Ridiculously Overflowing Inbox

February 18, 2008

email-hell.jpgWhile there have been quite a few posts on various blogs about maintaining a Zero Inbox, or an Empty Inbox for email, I take the opposite tack and assert that an overflowing in-box of a sign of lack of productivity.

This is not meant as a value judgment or a moral conclusion.

Instead, it is meant to say that a full in-box is a sign that one or more of the 2Time practices has not been mastered. The truth is, an empty in-box is the result of several practices that have been mastered to a significant degree, although I couldn’t say which belt level it corresponds to yet. It is a complex result to accomplish.

Here are some ways to destroy the ideas of an Empty Inbox when performing the different practices of 2Time.

  • Capturing – Simply leave the automatic download feature on. Even better, turn on the feature that shows a symbol, or emits an audible alarm, or both.
  • Emptying – No need for this practice!
  • Tossing – Be a pack-rat and keep every message forever. (more…)

The Email Inbox as a Mouth

February 8, 2008

mouth-3d_model_anat_openmouth_web1.jpgThe email in-box is nothing more than a mouth.

Huh?

Well, the mouth is an ideal capture point. It allows for temporary storage of a certain amount of food, and performs its function perfectly as a “staging area” for the process of digestion, and sending essential nutrition to the rest of the body.

When food stays too long in the mouth, trouble breaks out. The teeth, tongue, breath and gums all suffer when bits of food don’t make it out of the mouth. Clearly, it’s not intended to be a storage device.

In much the same way, the in-box was never intended to be a permanent storage area. It was only meant as a staging area, and when it gets abused, a user’s productivity instantly falls. If you have ever seen someone hunt through 4000 emails for a single piece of information (or if you have done it yourself), you know the frustration that comes from being buried by the result of having weak practices. (more…)

Professional Un-productivity

February 6, 2008

20070227overload.jpgAs mentioned before, the task of comparing one worker to another in terms of their productivity has become much harder.

However, the results of examining their in-box can give a good insight into how productive they are. In other words, a person who has an in-box of thousands of items is less productive than one who maintains less than 10 at any time.

(If you are immediately offended by this assertion, then stay tuned…)

What is the reasoning behind this statement?

To put it simply, a “full” in-box is a sign of very low mastery of the 2Time fundamental components.

But, what is the problem with having 100 or 1000 or 10,000 email items in an in-box? Is it even a problem worth considering?

Yes, it’s a problem and here is why. Contained in that in-box is a combination of different time demands:

  • stuff that should be deleted without reading
  • items that should be deleted after reading them once (more…)

Inbox Difficulties

February 4, 2008

inbox1.gifBack in the old days it was easy.

The unproductive guy was the one who still had a bunch of bricks sitting in a pile waiting to be assembled into a wall, while the productive guy was finished long before, and was onto the next task of digging the trench.

Productivity was easily measured by throughput per hour, per day, or per week.

By contrast, one of my clients in the car insurance industry remarked to me the other day that his company has a backlog in the claims area. The company, in its attempts to increase productivity, had started to measure the number of cases disposed of per day by a claims processor. Unfortunately, this way of “measuring” the relative productivity of each person was running into problems. (more…)

Email:Putting It All Together

January 28, 2008

jordan-arton45917-150x150.jpgOne of the easiest ways to check whether or not someone is at a higher belt level is to observe carefully how they handle email.

What do they have in their in-box? Is the number of emails always kept small? Does email get sent to them that they never reply to? Does email routinely get lost amid hundreds, or even thousands of items? Do their friends and colleagues prefer to call them knowing that they are “bad with email”? At the end of each year, do they simply delete everything in their in-box, and start all over with a fresh one?

Email failure is a sure sign they they have not mastered one or more of the fundamentals. This is because email management at the higher belt levels is a function of executing a group of fundamentals, rather than any single one.

To handle email well, a 2Time user must be Capturing, Emptying, Tossing, Scheduling and/or Listing, Acting Now, Warning and Reviewing in a smooth, coordinated way.

Why is this so? (more…)

A Hard Habit to Break

December 7, 2007

ist2_2380326_happy_mobile_computing.jpgOne of the more difficult habits to break when using Outlook is hard to change because of how the program is designed.

Here is the typical scenario:

  • Several pieces of email come into the Outlook in-box
  • Each of them share a single characteristic, in that they require about ten minutes of work
  • They have nothing else in common

Here is what I would really want to do, that as far as I can tell is not programmed into the latest version of Outlook. (more…)