Monday, June 11, 2012

How many folders do you need? Just 4 for now! - Part 5 in a Series

How's it being going?  Have you been doing the small steps we've been working on?  I can tell you that I am having no problem with the focus on writing great subject lines, using a subject indicator to let recipients know what I need for them; and turning off my automatic notification; and writing one topic per email.   I have a little confession to share.  I was wondering if I'd miss the automatic notifications.  I'm here to tell you that so far, I have not!  I check my email when I decide to check my email and the lack of notifications has brought about a bit of calmness to my day!  I like it!

Today, we are going to start by setting up a folder system.  Now, don't worry, we are not talking about you taking hours to wade through the mounds of email you currently have. We are instead looking forward. Below are the 4 folders that I want you to create and the reason for each of them:

  1. Backlog - This folder is going to be for all of your email in your inbox that is stuck there now.  Select all of your email in your inbox and put them in the backlog folder and get them out of your inbox.

  2. To-Do - This folder is for anything that requires you do something that would take longer than 2 minutes.  If something can be responded to or taken care of in less than 2 minutes, the rules it to get it down and then file this in the archive.  However, if the item will take longer than 2 minutes, this folder is where it belongs!.  For instance, if your principal is asking for your lesson plans, that email goes into your To-Do folder.  Use your to-do list in Outlook or Gmail to add the item to your list so you have it.  Or, take out a pen and paper and write it down.  The main thing is to get it out of your inbox and into the folder that lets you know that some action is needed to get it "outta" there!  So, put all of your items that require you do something in the "To-do" folder and add the task to your task list of choice.

  3. Hold - This folder is for emails that you are waiting for something.  Maybe you have written an educational grant and are waiting for the results or you have a question you asked the school counselor about a student and need a response.  You might be waiting for the delivery of special manipulatives that you ordered for a special project for the students and have the confirmation email.  This folder holds all of those types of things.  For this folder, place all of your items that you are waiting for a response or action to occur and then add the date you are expecting to hear by (estimate if needed) or expected delivery to your calendar.

  4. Archive - This folder holds all of the other emails.  These are the ones that are for FYI information, articles shared, completed discussions held through email. Everything else goes here.  There is no need for a complicated system that requires extensive creation of folders because today's email systems have great searching functions and you can find those emails in seconds.  For this folder, place everything else!

A special note on dealing with email.  Think of it like a mailbox you have at your home.  Your goal is to empty it just like you do your mailbox.  Using the folders above, you can achieve this!   

Remember, don't look back at the backlog.  Instead, weed through those as you have time but focus on keeping your inbox clear from now forward!

So, take a moment and sit down and create these folders.  Move those current inbox items to your backlog and then focus on following the steps above.  Make it a habit to designate the items to one of the folders:  to-do, hold, or archive.  In no time, that inbox will be clean and shiny!

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