Amy Coffin at We Tree has decided Time Management: Too Much of a Good Thing after a ProGen assignment in analyzing personal productivity showed her that she was almost too good at getting things done, to the point of never allowing herself a break. This morning, when I opened my email program and found 1965 messages in my Inbox I felt myself wishing I had just a bit of more of her discipline.
Today is the day I get a grip on my email. In typical researcher-style, I Google “email” which leads me to Merlin Mann at 43 Folders and his forthcoming book Inbox Zero. As a superhero of tech time management, Merlin fights Inbox glut with a simple, straightforward system aimed at keeping your Inbox absolutely empty.
You can watch his presentation on a Google video, or read posts in the Inbox Zero series at his project website. The idea is to “process” email, rather than to “check” email, and to take action so that it doesn’t accumulate. I’ve used my Inbox as a filing cabinet for so long that the notion of seeing it empty and forlorn is a bit scary, but I think I might be able to get used to the idea that I was “in charge” of the box instead of the other way around.
In fact as much as I like his idea of using five key actions to handle email, even better I like the notion of extending the idea to cutting down the tall stack of papers on my desk. It’s just “advanced common sense” as he says, but it is a system I can use.
So, how to get a grip on 1965 messages; I’m going to follow Merlin’s advice and move every last message into the Email DMZ. I’ll work forward with new messages and spend some time each day weeding out the old ones until I can reach Inbox Zero status. I might even start on the stack of papers on my desk.