I’ve been trying out the inbox zero philosophy (Google Video : Inbox Zero) for a while to keep on top of my email, and I’ve got it working quite well at work (Outlook) and in my personal GMail account. Since I’ve had quite a deluge of email recently for various reasons, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it.
The most important thing I’ve noticed is that it’s not just about emptying your inbox, it’s about managing what gets in there in the first place. In order to do this, I make sure I filter out anything that doesn’t need to be read immediately (sorry Red Gate, the newsletters are a great after-lunch read but you’re not *that* important). You can see ideas for folder names or other ways of marking emails via the links above (but folders and stars/flags are worth using). I can then sort through the filtered emails when I have some spare time, such as during a compile, or when it becomes relevant to a conversation I’m having.
What all this means is the pop-ups from Outlook or Pidgin only show me the stuff that’s worth interrupting my flow for, so I can monitor my email without being distracted by information overload, and I can either deal with it immediately or add it to my ToDo list or archive as appropriate.
I can then do some pre-emptive multitasking by setting aside time each day or week to look through the filtered stuff (e.g. just before/after lunch, start/end of day, depending on my work load).
The most important thing I’ve discovered is this :
It strikes me though that the most important thing that generalises a lot of the tips is this: Avoid multitasking.
If it’s not something you’ve tried before, it’s definitely worth checking out.