Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Email Triage

I've read a little on the web about various time management techniques such as 43 Folders along with Getting Things Done. The problem I have with a lot of these systems is that they still generate hardcopy detritus - don't we live in a digital age? Maybe they just feel too complicated for me. I tried using the pure task list approach in Outlook, but somehow emails that generated tasks never made it to the task list. These days I triage emails into one of the following:
  • Action is for something that I need to do
  • Reply is for something that I need to send an email in reply
  • Review is for something that I need to read in depth later (like a design document)
  • FYI is for something that I need to hold on to, but don't need just yet (like the spec for next weeks meeting)
Each of these is a specific flag colour which I can access from a custom toolbar. I can also mark the email as done when I complete the action. The exception is the email which fits none of these categories and so doesn't get a flag. This means that at the end of the month, I can simply delete all the emails that never got a flag, rather then having to sort through them to identify anything I need to keep. How do you manage your emails?

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I flag anything that "needs attention" when it gets into my inbox immediately.
I also flag (green) things that are FYI.

Apart from that I rely on creating calendar items and dealing with email immediately to keep up. That and my memory.

You know, when I used to rely on my PDA to organise my life I was forever forgetting things, but now that I rely on good old fashioned remembering I seem to be on top of things better, I think you just have to trust your own internal calendar.