Never touch an e-mail twice!

Touch your e-mail

One of my colleagues yesterday saw my inbox with only 3 mails in it and asked me: “How is it possible that you only have 3 mails in your inbox?”. I started talking to him about the great post by Boris on how he finally and permanently cleaned his inbox. After that I talked about the learning I got from Getting Things Done and Making Ideas Happen.

He looked a little desperate and told me: “I’m doing all that stuff.” He showed me. He is a piler and not a filer so he is working with a single archive folder. He created an Outlook Quick step to move files to this archive folder. With every mail he opens he thinks can I fix this in 2 minute or else he moves it to a task.

With all these great habits he still has an inbox with over 300 read mails that is killing him because he isn’t moving them faster then they are comming in.

This conversation was like  a rock in my shoe the rest of the day. Why is it working for me and isn’t it working for him?

As always the revelation hit me this morning under the shower.

When he showed me the way he was working was that he is revisiting e-mails all the time. He sees it on his mobile and it stays in his inbox. He then sees it in outlook and because he is overwhelmed he quickly moves to the next unread e-mail. He doesn’t have time to clean his inbox so the mail stays in it and he has to touch it again and again.

The thing you have to add to the great ideas like GTD and MIH is that you should NEVER touch an e-mail twice. If you don’t have time to respond under 2 minutes, file or create a task after reading an e-mail. DON’T OPEN IT. Plan time to do e-mail and don’t try do your mail while multitasking (should you be multitaskig at all?).

Posted: February 15th, 2012
Categories: Uncategorized
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