Productivity is defined as: a measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is a ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. Usually this ratio is in the form of an average, expressing the total output divided by the total input. Productivity is a measure of output from a process, per unit of input.
So – “doing” your email – may be sucking your time dry without setting some manageable and measurable outcomes.
I am generally haunted by my email… Whenever I open it – I seem to have nearly 200 emails waiting to be processed. Many emails in my inbox are irrelavant, marketing from others or spam.
In order to sweep through my email, I follow this process:
- Open my email application
- Select ALL the messages that I know are junk
- Flag them as junk and then delete them
- Flag any action items by selecting the little flag icon to the right – this puts the email onto my task list automatically so I can track my running list.
- Work Emails based on the most important topics and priorities.
My email goals are to:
- Get my email to 0 at the end of every day (always a wonderful feeling when this occurs!)
- Turn actionable items into tasks on my list
- File any emails I may need for later reference or retrieval
- Get through the process efficiently and productively
Using directory trees as sub-files in my email makes it much easier and more efficient to process and find messages. I group sub-directories as either: Actions, Home/Personal or into the different categories of work I do. Creating sub-files is important to create order in your messages, but only keep emails you’ll need for later reference. AND – don’t go too deep in your sub-direcories. I never go more than 3 levels – such as Home/Travel/2011 – the third layer is the lowest common denominator for emails on my directory tree. Another directory file tree work example is: Organizing/Biz Tools/PayPal – This allows me to keep my files and directories straight and organized. If I need anything, I can always search by name, sender, date or topic to find it.
One other trick is to create an Action-File sub-directory in my inbox called: ACTION. I have sub-categories here of the typical actions I will take most often. This helps me have a virtual action file and helps me easily find and follow up on what is most current for me.
There is no right way to process your email, but there are elements of efficiency that can be gleaned from others. The best approach is to clear it out if you don’t need it. Purge, purge, purge. Only keep what you’ll need to refer to later!
What are your email tricks to stay productive? Please share them below in the comment box!