Archive for the 'communication' Category

a reminder system for your brain

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Curious about Communication | Email Organization


Some people keep all emails in their inbox. 
This system involves:
•  some flagging
•  some deleting
•  little or no filing. 
•  using the search tool to find emails.

Some people move the emails into some kind of action folder.
This system involves:
•  writing the response email
•  filing
•  going through specific mailboxes to find emails

I’m a filing kind of person. 
As emails come in, they distract me (ding! ding!) if they pile up in a disorderly fashion.

I’ve found it easier for me to compartmentalize the emails in order to see what I have to do.
Just for you, I’ve made a screenshot of my email inbox and filing.
It’s a hybrid of some ideas in Getting Things Done.
I’m always honing it, but for now, it’s working.
Especially after all the great tips I picked up during my interviews about communication!

I hope this has been a helpful series. 
Enjoy the holiday photos in December and I’ll think of a new series to do for next year.
Suzi Q


1001 ways to answer your emails

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Curious about Communication | Responding to Emails


How does your email organizational system help you remember to answer emails?
There seems to be two camps for taking action:  before responding to the email and after responding to the email.

Before responding to the email.

1) Leave the email in the inbox

Some people would read an email, then flag it or mark it as unread so they would know they still had to answer it.  This breaks the rule of “never touch something more than once”, but for many people, they needed time to think about their answer.  The flag or the unread mark helped them remember to answer the email.

2) Move emails somewhere else

a)  Some people move their emails into an action folder or an “in progress” mailbox.  The equivalent of a “to do” list.

b)  Some people set up filters in their email to automatically move emails into appropriate mailboxes.  Since the email is unread, the specific mailbox for the job or client will show that there is an unread email inside.  The person knows that they need to look inside that mailbox to respond.

After responding to an email:

1) Delete all emails:
One person deletes an email after he has responded.  He keeps no records.  Sometimes he would dig through his Gmail trash if he needed to find something.  This seems to work well for him.

2)  Delete some emails (for storage reduction and for clarity):
A few people would delete all the emails in a thread except for the very last message in the thread.
If the first message of the thread contained a document or image and they wanted to keep that email, they would flag it then file it in the appropriate mailbox within the email program, so that they wouldn’t delete it by accident.

3)  Move emails into appropriate job or client mailboxes

After responding to an email, people would know that it was complete by filing it into the corresponding mailbox for that job or client.

4)  Move emails into “waiting for answer” mailbox
After responding to an email, delete the email, then go to the “Sent” mailbox, grab what was written in response and put it in a “waiting for answer” mailbox. 
Then what’s in the inbox are only emails that still need to be answered. 
Periodically check the “Waiting” mailbox to see what communications are still on hold (and to wonder why it’s taking them so long to answer!)
File the email after a response has been received.

People had figured out different ways to keep their communication on track.
I’m sure there are more systems out there.
I’m curious to hear what else people have come up with….

Would having X-ray vision help?

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Curious about Communication | Email Organization


It’s no accident that I’m a photographer.
I’m a visual person.
Being so strongly visual, I clear my inbox. 
When there are only a few emails in my inbox, I can see clearly what I have to do.

It’s been pretty eye-opening to see how others deal with the inbox.
My interview subjects are all successful at what they do, no matter what system they use for answering emails.
When I started doing my interviews, from my own bias I kept asking people how often they cleared their inboxes.
I just assumed that people DID clear their inbox.

Surprise to me!  I had evenly distributed responses for clearing the inbox:
•  every day  (a few people)
•  about once a month  (more people did this)
•  once every 6 months (again, more people did this)
•  once a year  (a few people)
•  never (a fair number of people)

I just couldn’t believe that people would keep so many emails in their inbox, but many did.
Or they waited as long as they felt necessary (a month or six months) before the inbox got too squirrely for them.
Or they just waited until the end of the year to archive the inbox.

I asked people to define how they clear their email inbox.  My respondants used these methods:
1) deleting emails
2)  archiving them in one big bunch (emails 2010, emails 2009, etc)
3)  moving emails into mailbox folders by client, job, person’s name, etc.

How does this all work in organizing your email?  More on that tomorrow!