Productivity Tips from Merlin Mann

I had breakfast with Merlin Mann and Irina this morning. I really need his help more than usual. I’m missing lots of appointments and screwing people. Not good at all. I’m gonna take a couple of days off and get a handle on it.

But, who is Merlin and why am I talking about this? He writes a blog called 43 Folders. It’s all about tips to make you more organized and more productive. Great stuff if you’re like me and just letting everything hit the floor.

He used a new term I hadn’t heard before, though: email bankruptcy. It’s where you get so deeply in trouble that you just declare email bankruptcy. In other words, you email everyone and say “sorry, I got your email but I just can’t deal with it/am deleting it, so if it’s important email me back.”

I’m very close to email bankruptcy. But my inbox is clean. I gotta get back onto David Allen’s program. Merlin inspired me to get back on.

Anyone have any productivity tips? Especially for dealing with 1,537 emails? (I have them all triaged in separate folders). The pain of it is I have other stuff I need to get done.

As to my calendar, the first folder I’m going to crunch on is my calendar/events folder.

Comments

  1. It sounds like Merlin’s advice for you is good. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for 7 years after declaring email bankruptcy, before people will let you back in the game.

    Other than that advice, say “NO!” a lot more.

  2. It sounds like Merlin’s advice for you is good. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for 7 years after declaring email bankruptcy, before people will let you back in the game.

    Other than that advice, say “NO!” a lot more.

  3. At the risk of going all Hollywood on you, have you thought about getting a personal assistant? Someone who could triage your emails (perhaps answer some of the more mundane ones) and perform other time-eating tasks?

    This would free you up for the more important tasks of writing, meetings, shooting video, etc.

    An assistant wouldn’t hurt in the “overseeing the party so Maryam doesn’t get stuck in the kitchen all night leading to yelling at Robert later in the evening” area, either.

  4. At the risk of going all Hollywood on you, have you thought about getting a personal assistant? Someone who could triage your emails (perhaps answer some of the more mundane ones) and perform other time-eating tasks?

    This would free you up for the more important tasks of writing, meetings, shooting video, etc.

    An assistant wouldn’t hurt in the “overseeing the party so Maryam doesn’t get stuck in the kitchen all night leading to yelling at Robert later in the evening” area, either.

  5. I read this somewhere, but forget where… I think there are 3 common steps to dealing with email…

    1. If you don’t care, don’t need to care, or it’s junk, DELETE IT.

    2. If you need to action and have the response ready to go – DO IT NOW

    3. If you need to follow up and provide a response later, FILE IT – ACTIONS folder

    Pretty simple, it’s just hard to get in the habit of doing.

  6. I read this somewhere, but forget where… I think there are 3 common steps to dealing with email…

    1. If you don’t care, don’t need to care, or it’s junk, DELETE IT.

    2. If you need to action and have the response ready to go – DO IT NOW

    3. If you need to follow up and provide a response later, FILE IT – ACTIONS folder

    Pretty simple, it’s just hard to get in the habit of doing.

  7. Here are several:

    I was talking to Andrew Baron and he did a full on email reboot fairly recently. He sent out a mass email saying to people: if you and I had open business, I’m considering it closed as of this email. Please re-submit if you want to continue working on whatever it was with me. That seemed like a nice re-set option.

    Then, for going forward, shift from email to a blog. Start a blog that’s a communication blog, not a reporting blog like this one. Make it private, if you have to, and throw the top 50 people you want to have knowledge of you and your goings on onto the blog.

    It becomes easier to manage, and there are just comments to manage, etc. It’s a faster turnaround time.

    Start asking people to phrase their emails to you in the “yes or no” response method. So… they might say, “I’m thinking of buying a Zune. Good idea?” You say, “yes.”

    Use whatever the PC equivalent is to iClip, and start using a few standard responses for certain repeat emails. The start of these replies can read: “you’re really important, and I really do want to know more about this, but at my current email levels, I can’t get too deep into it. Why not send me a podcast instead?”

    Teach people (subtly) how to email you. If you like brief, reply brief. If you ask for something, ask for it in the format you like it.

    An intern or a personal assistant is a useful thing. Virtual personal assistants are cheap. Check out someone like Sarah Deutsch (www.pinkleberry.com).

    Good luck, from a Lifehack.org writer.

    –Chris Brogan…
    coFounder of PodCamp.

  8. Here are several:

    I was talking to Andrew Baron and he did a full on email reboot fairly recently. He sent out a mass email saying to people: if you and I had open business, I’m considering it closed as of this email. Please re-submit if you want to continue working on whatever it was with me. That seemed like a nice re-set option.

    Then, for going forward, shift from email to a blog. Start a blog that’s a communication blog, not a reporting blog like this one. Make it private, if you have to, and throw the top 50 people you want to have knowledge of you and your goings on onto the blog.

    It becomes easier to manage, and there are just comments to manage, etc. It’s a faster turnaround time.

    Start asking people to phrase their emails to you in the “yes or no” response method. So… they might say, “I’m thinking of buying a Zune. Good idea?” You say, “yes.”

    Use whatever the PC equivalent is to iClip, and start using a few standard responses for certain repeat emails. The start of these replies can read: “you’re really important, and I really do want to know more about this, but at my current email levels, I can’t get too deep into it. Why not send me a podcast instead?”

    Teach people (subtly) how to email you. If you like brief, reply brief. If you ask for something, ask for it in the format you like it.

    An intern or a personal assistant is a useful thing. Virtual personal assistants are cheap. Check out someone like Sarah Deutsch (www.pinkleberry.com).

    Good luck, from a Lifehack.org writer.

    –Chris Brogan…
    coFounder of PodCamp.

  9. Robert,

    http://www.emaildashboard.com/2006/08/inbox_survival_.html

    That’s how I did it. I was at about 400 and it took me about a month to really get this done. But I think you can make it 30 a day or 50 a day or whatever – once you get in the groove, it becomes second nature to process and address emails instantly.

    After that, it’s just a matter of sticking to a plan. I describe mine here: http://www.emaildashboard.com/2006/08/my_personal_ema.html

    Like many other tasks in our lives, I think getting and keeping control of email is more a matter of discipline and commitment than anything else.

  10. Robert,

    http://www.emaildashboard.com/2006/08/inbox_survival_.html

    That’s how I did it. I was at about 400 and it took me about a month to really get this done. But I think you can make it 30 a day or 50 a day or whatever – once you get in the groove, it becomes second nature to process and address emails instantly.

    After that, it’s just a matter of sticking to a plan. I describe mine here: http://www.emaildashboard.com/2006/08/my_personal_ema.html

    Like many other tasks in our lives, I think getting and keeping control of email is more a matter of discipline and commitment than anything else.

  11. forget hollywood go all Warhol on us. Andy had dozens of personal assistants when he was kickin’ out the A*r*T…rumors that he had Andy impersonators so he could be in two or more places at once…hmmm…what would Warhol be doing with the internet?…remember the avant garde?

  12. forget hollywood go all Warhol on us. Andy had dozens of personal assistants when he was kickin’ out the A*r*T…rumors that he had Andy impersonators so he could be in two or more places at once…hmmm…what would Warhol be doing with the internet?…remember the avant garde?

  13. An idea:

    Change the subject lines of the emails you receive to the action you need to take.

    You can do that in Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes by editing the message (ALT+E in Outlook, CTRL+E in Lotus Notes), and then editing the original subject line. Simply type in a new subject. You can type in front of the original subject, to keep the “search-ability” of the message.

    When you close the message, it will show the revised subject line in your inbox. Review your messages as they come in and change the subjects to actionable tasks. When you do this as e-mails show up, you will spend much less time opening, reviewing, and closing e-mails later.

    For example, you might change the incoming subject line “Re: budget meeting” to “Draft initial presentation overview re: budget.”

    As you look through your inbox, you are now able to tell at a glance the steps you need to take, instead of opening and reading the same messages over and over again.

    By appropriately identifying the action that each email requires, you can purge, sort, and organize much of your inbox, cleaning the clutter and making it easier to get work done.

  14. An idea:

    Change the subject lines of the emails you receive to the action you need to take.

    You can do that in Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes by editing the message (ALT+E in Outlook, CTRL+E in Lotus Notes), and then editing the original subject line. Simply type in a new subject. You can type in front of the original subject, to keep the “search-ability” of the message.

    When you close the message, it will show the revised subject line in your inbox. Review your messages as they come in and change the subjects to actionable tasks. When you do this as e-mails show up, you will spend much less time opening, reviewing, and closing e-mails later.

    For example, you might change the incoming subject line “Re: budget meeting” to “Draft initial presentation overview re: budget.”

    As you look through your inbox, you are now able to tell at a glance the steps you need to take, instead of opening and reading the same messages over and over again.

    By appropriately identifying the action that each email requires, you can purge, sort, and organize much of your inbox, cleaning the clutter and making it easier to get work done.

  15. You have a gift of the glib so don’t feel you need to be soft and fluffy when you reply to emails. You don’t have to bark when you type but brevity is the mark of a focused and active person.

    No one will mind if you reply with the single word “noted” and let your signature element do the pleasantries.

    If you don’t deal with niggling backlogs, you will lose sleep, increase stress, eat comfort foods and be nasty to those in your personal space. So be nice to those who care and just follow a plan.

    Good people declare email bankruptcy all over the contact map. That’s a real option you should consider. All good mail comes back. All good collaborators understand how to orbit.

  16. You have a gift of the glib so don’t feel you need to be soft and fluffy when you reply to emails. You don’t have to bark when you type but brevity is the mark of a focused and active person.

    No one will mind if you reply with the single word “noted” and let your signature element do the pleasantries.

    If you don’t deal with niggling backlogs, you will lose sleep, increase stress, eat comfort foods and be nasty to those in your personal space. So be nice to those who care and just follow a plan.

    Good people declare email bankruptcy all over the contact map. That’s a real option you should consider. All good mail comes back. All good collaborators understand how to orbit.

  17. Chances are you’ll mark as “important” only a small fraction of those 1,500+ emails so I’m recommending the following procedure:

    1. Go through the inbox and flag the emails (you’re using Outlook 2003, right?) as “Important”, “Needs attention” and “Information”. If it won’t fit any of those categories it’s safe to delete them. [There is a short tutorial on how to name flags and assign keyboard shortcuts to them here:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/assistance/HA011168451033.aspx

    in case you didn't already know that.]

    Hopefully, by now you’d have less than 1,000 mails.

    Of course, in case you know there will be a lot of mails regarding you former Microsoft job you could make a special flag just for those. Mailing lists and newsletters should either be sorted in a folder using a rule and deleted (you could always check the archives, there usually are).

    2. Using the smart folders, reply to the mails marked as Important.

    By now, you should have significantly reduced your unread mails to a small fraction of the original 1,500. During the next few weeks you should also do most of the “Need attention” and take a look over the “Information” mails.

    I hope this helps.

  18. Chances are you’ll mark as “important” only a small fraction of those 1,500+ emails so I’m recommending the following procedure:

    1. Go through the inbox and flag the emails (you’re using Outlook 2003, right?) as “Important”, “Needs attention” and “Information”. If it won’t fit any of those categories it’s safe to delete them. [There is a short tutorial on how to name flags and assign keyboard shortcuts to them here:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/assistance/HA011168451033.aspx

    in case you didn't already know that.]

    Hopefully, by now you’d have less than 1,000 mails.

    Of course, in case you know there will be a lot of mails regarding you former Microsoft job you could make a special flag just for those. Mailing lists and newsletters should either be sorted in a folder using a rule and deleted (you could always check the archives, there usually are).

    2. Using the smart folders, reply to the mails marked as Important.

    By now, you should have significantly reduced your unread mails to a small fraction of the original 1,500. During the next few weeks you should also do most of the “Need attention” and take a look over the “Information” mails.

    I hope this helps.

  19. Spend less time reading about how to be productive and more time doing stuff? :-)

    Not sure “rebooting” your e-mail is that great idea. Do it once to get on top of things, but then figure out a sustainable way of looking after your e-mail. I think I’d find it very rude to recieve more than one message as suggested by #4.

    (I’d just delete the inbox without mailing people about the fact you’ve done it – if anything was that important, they’ll mail you again).

    Also try Gmail. The usefulness of having Google search for your email, labels, and the threaded conversations system shouldn’t be underestimated.

  20. Spend less time reading about how to be productive and more time doing stuff? :-)

    Not sure “rebooting” your e-mail is that great idea. Do it once to get on top of things, but then figure out a sustainable way of looking after your e-mail. I think I’d find it very rude to recieve more than one message as suggested by #4.

    (I’d just delete the inbox without mailing people about the fact you’ve done it – if anything was that important, they’ll mail you again).

    Also try Gmail. The usefulness of having Google search for your email, labels, and the threaded conversations system shouldn’t be underestimated.

  21. The delete everything and email folk to say ‘business is closed’ is probably the worst piece of productivity advice I’ve ever seen. Effectively it means you are saying to everybody I know that “I’m more important than you”. Most people have to deal with the same problems of information overload. So deal with it. Don’t expect others to do it for you.

  22. The delete everything and email folk to say ‘business is closed’ is probably the worst piece of productivity advice I’ve ever seen. Effectively it means you are saying to everybody I know that “I’m more important than you”. Most people have to deal with the same problems of information overload. So deal with it. Don’t expect others to do it for you.

  23. OUrsource your life…

    http://www.smartmoney.com/esquire/index.cfm?Story=20050909-outsource

    I have a folder for Follow Ups & a folder for Action Items. Flip a coin where the email will go. Though I never seem to look in them, my inbox is empty except for an email to myself with a TODO list of the top 3 things I need to do that day. :)

    SSW’s standards on everything and anything includes rules for better email.
    http://www.ssw.com.au/SSW/Standards/Rules/RulesToBetterEmail.aspx

    “Having hundreds of emails in your Inbox is not uncommon. But it’s very uncommon to find people who successfully manage their Inbox. Instead they let their Inbox become a great black hole with no business value.”

  24. OUrsource your life…

    http://www.smartmoney.com/esquire/index.cfm?Story=20050909-outsource

    I have a folder for Follow Ups & a folder for Action Items. Flip a coin where the email will go. Though I never seem to look in them, my inbox is empty except for an email to myself with a TODO list of the top 3 things I need to do that day. :)

    SSW’s standards on everything and anything includes rules for better email.
    http://www.ssw.com.au/SSW/Standards/Rules/RulesToBetterEmail.aspx

    “Having hundreds of emails in your Inbox is not uncommon. But it’s very uncommon to find people who successfully manage their Inbox. Instead they let their Inbox become a great black hole with no business value.”

  25. Simple. Take a day out of your life and go through all your mails. That’s D. Allen’s advice. That doesn’t mean that you have to answer them all. Just file: to respond, not important, and trash.

    And if you can’t take a day off, well then you’re a slave to your work and might as well delete all your mails and start over. It’s not like people won’t resend them if they’re important, and new opportunities/girlfriends/penpals come along every day, right?

  26. Simple. Take a day out of your life and go through all your mails. That’s D. Allen’s advice. That doesn’t mean that you have to answer them all. Just file: to respond, not important, and trash.

    And if you can’t take a day off, well then you’re a slave to your work and might as well delete all your mails and start over. It’s not like people won’t resend them if they’re important, and new opportunities/girlfriends/penpals come along every day, right?

  27. I am sure you have more than one account.
    One for casual and one for hot issues.

    Have someone write a auto-matic program that can be sold or shared to others. “Your e-mail to ___ has been auto-deleted. If it requires action please resend”. This same function can be used in all industries by busy execs who do not have time to sort through all of the e-mails that come in for action when overloaded.

    Have you ever sent an e-mail to a computer challenged exec that does not read e-mails ever. They do still exist. Phone follow-ups occur if it is a critical launch related issue.

    The only problem would be the send resend delete resend ininate loop stuff.

    Try opening multiple windows for your email in an effort to delete the Blah blah ones. Two windows open for scanning = 50% increase in productivity etc.
    Mark and forward to another action account.

    Email is a mess that MS can and should look to sort out for the all industries. Talk about bang for the buck. How about it Bill?

    Helps to take a Sped Redin Clas 2. lol
    Generic to specific!

    Just a thought!

  28. I am sure you have more than one account.
    One for casual and one for hot issues.

    Have someone write a auto-matic program that can be sold or shared to others. “Your e-mail to ___ has been auto-deleted. If it requires action please resend”. This same function can be used in all industries by busy execs who do not have time to sort through all of the e-mails that come in for action when overloaded.

    Have you ever sent an e-mail to a computer challenged exec that does not read e-mails ever. They do still exist. Phone follow-ups occur if it is a critical launch related issue.

    The only problem would be the send resend delete resend ininate loop stuff.

    Try opening multiple windows for your email in an effort to delete the Blah blah ones. Two windows open for scanning = 50% increase in productivity etc.
    Mark and forward to another action account.

    Email is a mess that MS can and should look to sort out for the all industries. Talk about bang for the buck. How about it Bill?

    Helps to take a Sped Redin Clas 2. lol
    Generic to specific!

    Just a thought!

  29. I think these are systemic problems due to the nature of work, the global economy, increased demands on employees, and the limitations of communications tools.

    And the problem is likely to get worse.

    For many people this message overload is:

    * An important problem
    * A frequent problem
    * A problem they can’t fully solve with today’s tools

    Those are the key ingredients for a potentially lucrative market-disruptive product or service.

    So here is an open challenge: Can an email system, handheld device, BlackBerry, telephone, handset, telecom network or software system solve these problems of information overload?

    Some further thoughts on this at:
    http://www.ondisruption.com/my_weblog/2006/09/scobles_email_c.html

  30. I think these are systemic problems due to the nature of work, the global economy, increased demands on employees, and the limitations of communications tools.

    And the problem is likely to get worse.

    For many people this message overload is:

    * An important problem
    * A frequent problem
    * A problem they can’t fully solve with today’s tools

    Those are the key ingredients for a potentially lucrative market-disruptive product or service.

    So here is an open challenge: Can an email system, handheld device, BlackBerry, telephone, handset, telecom network or software system solve these problems of information overload?

    Some further thoughts on this at:
    http://www.ondisruption.com/my_weblog/2006/09/scobles_email_c.html

  31. Robert,

    From a survey of the now 16 comments you’ve received, the answer lies in their advice already…but think of hte answer on a global level, rather than a quick fix or linear tech answer…or in a 2 birds, 1 stone sense:

    1. An intern that has a high-energy love-affair with blogging, writing, research, technology, and networking would be an ideal assistant. Sure, email organization ain’t sophisticated or sexy, but if he/she is smart, they’ll see it as having insider info in a very intriguing globabl conversation…and hang on for the ride. Ask them to do similar intern work for PodTech video research, and you’ve nailed it. You’ll manage to not only help introduce a passionate young professional to a larger world, but they can become a key part of your communications army.

    2. Do not erase or declare email bancruptcy. A short-term solution that will not deal with the need for a longer strategy.

    3. Quit. Shut down the blog. Get a job at an out-of-the way convenience store doing unglorious service work. Stop writing. Stop putting your email addess in the public eye. Move out of Cali. Fall in love with something archane, such as buggy whips, that has a very small audience, if any at all. Only respond to any communication that comes in hand-written form.

    Best of luck, Robert. And BTW, why haven’t you replied to my last email or two? (he smiles).

    Cheers,
    Christian

  32. Robert,

    From a survey of the now 16 comments you’ve received, the answer lies in their advice already…but think of hte answer on a global level, rather than a quick fix or linear tech answer…or in a 2 birds, 1 stone sense:

    1. An intern that has a high-energy love-affair with blogging, writing, research, technology, and networking would be an ideal assistant. Sure, email organization ain’t sophisticated or sexy, but if he/she is smart, they’ll see it as having insider info in a very intriguing globabl conversation…and hang on for the ride. Ask them to do similar intern work for PodTech video research, and you’ve nailed it. You’ll manage to not only help introduce a passionate young professional to a larger world, but they can become a key part of your communications army.

    2. Do not erase or declare email bancruptcy. A short-term solution that will not deal with the need for a longer strategy.

    3. Quit. Shut down the blog. Get a job at an out-of-the way convenience store doing unglorious service work. Stop writing. Stop putting your email addess in the public eye. Move out of Cali. Fall in love with something archane, such as buggy whips, that has a very small audience, if any at all. Only respond to any communication that comes in hand-written form.

    Best of luck, Robert. And BTW, why haven’t you replied to my last email or two? (he smiles).

    Cheers,
    Christian

  33. Heh. I wasn’t making a case for email bankruptcy as a long-term solution (see http://www.inboxzero.com/ for that).

    I’d just thought it was a fascinating idea (Via Prof. Lessig) — esp., as in _real_ bankruptcy, for someone who had passed the point of no return and gone numb on doing anything with their months-old mail. Obviously it’s not a first line of attack and shouldn’t be adopted as such.

    I think Inbox Zero should do it for you just fine, Robert; you can still keep your email credit rating. :)

  34. Heh. I wasn’t making a case for email bankruptcy as a long-term solution (see http://www.inboxzero.com/ for that).

    I’d just thought it was a fascinating idea (Via Prof. Lessig) — esp., as in _real_ bankruptcy, for someone who had passed the point of no return and gone numb on doing anything with their months-old mail. Obviously it’s not a first line of attack and shouldn’t be adopted as such.

    I think Inbox Zero should do it for you just fine, Robert; you can still keep your email credit rating. :)

  35. Take an apparently much-needed blog break, process your stacked up e-mail in a DA-style purge day where you let everyone know, in advance, that you will offline, and then saty on the wagon. It’s a question of priorities and discipline.

    You and I have talked about the calculus of e-mail and GTD before. I understand the volume of mail you get and the inherent problem you facewith applying a two-minute rule to actionable e-mail when you’re getting four more during those minutes. Hopefully, now that you’re out of the MS e-mail culture (at least on a FT basis), your flow has stabilized at a lower level.

    Ultimately, you have to decide how important e-mail is relative to your other activities. If going to conferences, site visits, blogger dinners, camp events, Apple stores, hanging with your son, being good to your lovely wife, and helping to build your new company all trump e-mail — admit it. And change expectations by being less accessible to everyone because you can’t get it all done. Create an e-mail address for your public persona and another for your most important people and share it only with them.

    While I don’t get nearly as many e-mails as you do (apparently), I never go more than two two or three days without getting back to empty. And I’m not talking about hiding “e-mail” in triage folders (no slam on ClearContext which I know you have been using). I’m talking about real processing where the actionable e-mail is converted to tasks or appointments.

    Read (or reread) Mike Linenberger’s book Total Workday Control. Hire one of David Allen’s coaches to come work with you for a day or two (not cheap, but less expensive than hiring an assistant). Use the action features in ClearContext to make a decision about the actionable e-mails you receive in a processing run several times a day (15 minutes, four times a day is my formula).

    Good luck pal. It surely isn’t easy but you’ll find your way.

  36. Take an apparently much-needed blog break, process your stacked up e-mail in a DA-style purge day where you let everyone know, in advance, that you will offline, and then saty on the wagon. It’s a question of priorities and discipline.

    You and I have talked about the calculus of e-mail and GTD before. I understand the volume of mail you get and the inherent problem you facewith applying a two-minute rule to actionable e-mail when you’re getting four more during those minutes. Hopefully, now that you’re out of the MS e-mail culture (at least on a FT basis), your flow has stabilized at a lower level.

    Ultimately, you have to decide how important e-mail is relative to your other activities. If going to conferences, site visits, blogger dinners, camp events, Apple stores, hanging with your son, being good to your lovely wife, and helping to build your new company all trump e-mail — admit it. And change expectations by being less accessible to everyone because you can’t get it all done. Create an e-mail address for your public persona and another for your most important people and share it only with them.

    While I don’t get nearly as many e-mails as you do (apparently), I never go more than two two or three days without getting back to empty. And I’m not talking about hiding “e-mail” in triage folders (no slam on ClearContext which I know you have been using). I’m talking about real processing where the actionable e-mail is converted to tasks or appointments.

    Read (or reread) Mike Linenberger’s book Total Workday Control. Hire one of David Allen’s coaches to come work with you for a day or two (not cheap, but less expensive than hiring an assistant). Use the action features in ClearContext to make a decision about the actionable e-mails you receive in a processing run several times a day (15 minutes, four times a day is my formula).

    Good luck pal. It surely isn’t easy but you’ll find your way.

  37. Robert,

    Worked on an SAP implementation years ago. The project manager had a simple solution for any email that he was cc on – it was deleted. An automatic repsonse went out stating that if the mail was really important, the sender was to send to him direct. His emai inbox dropped by over 50%.

    Good luck.

    Shane

  38. Robert,

    Worked on an SAP implementation years ago. The project manager had a simple solution for any email that he was cc on – it was deleted. An automatic repsonse went out stating that if the mail was really important, the sender was to send to him direct. His emai inbox dropped by over 50%.

    Good luck.

    Shane

  39. I recommend not giving out your email address cell phone # to everyone. You mentioned that you communicate best through your blog comments, so if someone sends you a message then you can have an automatic message going out that says I appreciate your comments, if you want to get a response please go to my blog and leave a commnet.

    Unless you have a secretary it is impossible to handle eveyone’s requests, comments, attacks, condemnations. Etc..

    Even Moses in the bible had to delegate some of his responsibilites.

  40. I recommend not giving out your email address cell phone # to everyone. You mentioned that you communicate best through your blog comments, so if someone sends you a message then you can have an automatic message going out that says I appreciate your comments, if you want to get a response please go to my blog and leave a commnet.

    Unless you have a secretary it is impossible to handle eveyone’s requests, comments, attacks, condemnations. Etc..

    Even Moses in the bible had to delegate some of his responsibilites.

  41. I’m halfway through the programme. The Three D’s are working out very well so far:- Do, Delegate, Dispose.

    If it takes two minutes or less, Do it. If not, defer it or Delegate it to someone more suitable. Dispose is pretty self-explanatory.

    A coupla days is all you need to breeze through the book and re-organise your life. Most evenings now, my mind is emptied out and it feels so good :-)

  42. I’m halfway through the programme. The Three D’s are working out very well so far:- Do, Delegate, Dispose.

    If it takes two minutes or less, Do it. If not, defer it or Delegate it to someone more suitable. Dispose is pretty self-explanatory.

    A coupla days is all you need to breeze through the book and re-organise your life. Most evenings now, my mind is emptied out and it feels so good :-)

  43. You’re not suffering from email bankruptcy.

    Your inbox is empty and you successfully triage your messages, but you don’t seem to have the time to follow up and do the associated actions.

    Solution: be stricter (more realistic?) with your triage. As you know, one of the benefits of GTD is that it stops you overcommitting, so the solution is to get back on the GTD wagon. We all fall off now and then — even David Allen falls off his own wagon occasionally, but it’s easy to dust yourself down and get right back on again.

  44. You’re not suffering from email bankruptcy.

    Your inbox is empty and you successfully triage your messages, but you don’t seem to have the time to follow up and do the associated actions.

    Solution: be stricter (more realistic?) with your triage. As you know, one of the benefits of GTD is that it stops you overcommitting, so the solution is to get back on the GTD wagon. We all fall off now and then — even David Allen falls off his own wagon occasionally, but it’s easy to dust yourself down and get right back on again.

  45. Something I learned while teaching high school…there is *always* more to do. I would suggest upping your threshold on what email you need to respond to. There is only so much time in the day, and you need to take time to spend with your family and do things you enjoy.

    There were times teaching that I collected assignments that were never graded, and some lessons that were not planned as well as they should have been, and even a couple of times where I had to totally wing it. Not because I didn’t care, but there was only so much I could get done. I had to get to a point where I was ok with doing everything I could do and then stopping and not feel guilty about it.

  46. Something I learned while teaching high school…there is *always* more to do. I would suggest upping your threshold on what email you need to respond to. There is only so much time in the day, and you need to take time to spend with your family and do things you enjoy.

    There were times teaching that I collected assignments that were never graded, and some lessons that were not planned as well as they should have been, and even a couple of times where I had to totally wing it. Not because I didn’t care, but there was only so much I could get done. I had to get to a point where I was ok with doing everything I could do and then stopping and not feel guilty about it.

  47. Unless you’ve done this already, I’d keep a separate address for giving out to the public (whichever one your already giving out I guess) and a secret one that is only used for close associates to have access to. I think you give your cell phone number out here somewhere, but you have the luxury of turning that off too. You probably wouldn’t want to be woke up at 3 in the morning by an irate blog reader halfway around the world.

    I conduct business by mail, receive billing notifications that way and communicate with family members. The last thing in the world I’d want to happen is have that ID posted for the world to see (even if there are only 3 people reading my blog). If as many people had my e-mail address as have yours, I’d simply get a new e-mail address somewhere and switch the important stuff over to that. As for the hotmail ID, let the messages pile up. A good test of that “limitless” inbox and search, should you ever need to look for something someone might have sent you.

  48. Unless you’ve done this already, I’d keep a separate address for giving out to the public (whichever one your already giving out I guess) and a secret one that is only used for close associates to have access to. I think you give your cell phone number out here somewhere, but you have the luxury of turning that off too. You probably wouldn’t want to be woke up at 3 in the morning by an irate blog reader halfway around the world.

    I conduct business by mail, receive billing notifications that way and communicate with family members. The last thing in the world I’d want to happen is have that ID posted for the world to see (even if there are only 3 people reading my blog). If as many people had my e-mail address as have yours, I’d simply get a new e-mail address somewhere and switch the important stuff over to that. As for the hotmail ID, let the messages pile up. A good test of that “limitless” inbox and search, should you ever need to look for something someone might have sent you.

  49. Robert,

    1) Are you using Outlook on Windows?

    2) If you are, I use Clear Context Inbox Manager Pro to keep my inbox clean. I was a beta tester, and love it… couldn’t live without it. In fact, I run Parallels on My MacBookPro just so I can have Clear Context installed on Outlook:

    http://www.clearcontext.com/products/index.html

    Use this coupon code CC15-15009 to get $15 off it if you want.

    If you buy it now, you’ll get a free upgrade to version 3.0 coming out soon. Read more about their new version coming out here:
    http://blog.clearcontext.com/2006/08/clearcontext_v3.html

    (Disclaimer: if you use that coupon code, I’ll personally get a free upgrade to version 3.0)

  50. Robert,

    1) Are you using Outlook on Windows?

    2) If you are, I use Clear Context Inbox Manager Pro to keep my inbox clean. I was a beta tester, and love it… couldn’t live without it. In fact, I run Parallels on My MacBookPro just so I can have Clear Context installed on Outlook:

    http://www.clearcontext.com/products/index.html

    Use this coupon code CC15-15009 to get $15 off it if you want.

    If you buy it now, you’ll get a free upgrade to version 3.0 coming out soon. Read more about their new version coming out here:
    http://blog.clearcontext.com/2006/08/clearcontext_v3.html

    (Disclaimer: if you use that coupon code, I’ll personally get a free upgrade to version 3.0)

  51. Years ago, you were the first person I read who mentioned GTD.

    I credit you with opening my eyes to it.

    Good to see you getting back on the wagon.

  52. Years ago, you were the first person I read who mentioned GTD.

    I credit you with opening my eyes to it.

    Good to see you getting back on the wagon.

  53. Hi THis is swapna,
    I have the account with gmail, I have lost all my mail it is auto deleted by gmail, I have very important messages in it, ALl the information regarding my personal and proffessional life.. Please i want all my data back do me a favour… let me know how can i get back all my data . It is my life

  54. Hi THis is swapna,
    I have the account with gmail, I have lost all my mail it is auto deleted by gmail, I have very important messages in it, ALl the information regarding my personal and proffessional life.. Please i want all my data back do me a favour… let me know how can i get back all my data . It is my life