Tag Archives: Work

Email: How To Use Folders To Fight Bad Behaviors

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here’s one more note on email.  See the others here:

  1. Email: Don’t Get Fired
  2. Email: Don’t Fire & Forget

There has been a lot written about strategies for dealing with email.  Admittedly, I am not that “good” at following them.  Microsoft Analytics tells me I respond too quickly.

My excuse is that at an earlier point in my career, I was tethered to my blackberry (i.e., an investment banker).  As an aside, I loved my blackberry and would seriously consider getting another one for work related mobile needs.  

I tend to check email a bit too frequently, according to the experts.  It is hard for me to ignore that little bolded Inbox icon.  Other notifications have been disabled – the pop ups, sounds, tray icons, etc.  And email rules sort out a lot of the noise – deal notifications and other system generated stuff.  But, I tend to use emails as a bit of To Do list and lean toward being action oriented, so emails still present a challenge.

The downside of not being able to ignore a new email, is I tend to respond to emails too quickly.  Too quickly meaning two things.  Too quickly as in I should think about my reply a bit more.  And too quickly as in when you send an email, you tend to get more emails.

So my solution to instill a little discipline into my bad email habits is something I stole from somewhere (maybe a modified GTD approach).  I file new emails into a few folders:

  1. Today – Items that I need to deal with today.
  2. This Week – Items that need a response in a reasonable amount of time.
  3. Next Week – Items that have a longer time horizon.
  4. Follow up – Items with no immediate action but need to be monitored.

Filing new emails let’s me accommodate my zero inbox compulsions, while avoiding firing off responses to quickly.

Reviewing these folders is part of my weekly planning process.  

Generally, I will review the Today folder toward the end of the day.  And check the This Week folder at various points throughout the week.  The Next Week folder gets reviewed on Fridays and Mondays and shuffled into either Today or This Week.

There you go.  Hopefully, that helps someone.

Email: Don’t Get Fired!

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Have you ever received an email that was sent to you unintentionally?  Or seen one where you know someone was copied, but most definitely should have been.  Or better yet, received an email followed quickly by a recall notice?  I am most definitely not letting you recall the first message.  I will be reading every word of it.

So, here’s another quick email tip.

You can read about the last one here: Don’t Fire & Forget.

I refer to this as my “Don’t Get Fired Rule.”  I’ve only met one other person who does something like this, but everyone should.

I put a two minute delay on all outbound emails.

That’s it. Super simple.

It gives you an extra two minutes to think about what you wrote.

It gives you a chance to correct that recipient you fat fingered. (I purposely don’t autofill addresses – maybe another post).

It slows you down just enough, to slow you down just enough.

For bonus points, you can set the rule so emails sent with “high importance” bypass the delay.  So if you are in a meeting and need to send something quickly and folks are waiting on you, just send it high importance. An enhancement idea that I borrowed liberally (i.e., stole) from the other person I referenced above.

Hope that helps.