We all struggle with it…managing our email. We leave our desk for 30 minutes and there are 15 new messages — I know, it just happened! Ugh!
I’ve previously read and implemented (for a short time) David Allen’s Getting Things Done with regards to my email. I set up labels in Gmail for Action, Delegate, Read. If you’re using Outlook, labels is equivalent to folders. My Action label became unmanageable. I quit using it. I don’t really use my Delegate label anymore because most delegatable items happen within our project management software. And my Read label — well, I still use it and it still continues to grow.
What does this mean? This means that I was lucky to keep my Inbox to less than 50 emails. I was using it as my task list. It was out of control yet again.
Then last month I picked up a free Kindle book on organizing your Gmail using the Getting Things Done system. I loved it and implemented the suggestions!!
No longer do I have a single Action label. I now have the following sub-labels:
*Side note: I went through my out-of-control Action label and found that 75 percent of it was no longer pertinent or had been completed. The rest I re-organized into my new Action sub-labels.
At the designated times throughout the day I check my Inbox, things get responded to immediately or archived into the appropriate label (including Read and Swipe). I work in the Now label most of the time and move into the Next label every day. I also review the other three labels daily and move things up the ladder as appropriate.
This does a couple of things. First, I’m no longer working in my Inbox and watching new messages come in to distract me. I also don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of messages I see in my Inbox. Next, tasks and emails are prioritized in my Action sub-labels and I’m much better organized and feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
You’ll notice in the screenshot of my email that there are periods in front of Action, Read and Swipe. This is to keep those at the top — above all other labels that I have.
After the 4th of July three-day weekend, I was concerned whether I’d be able to stay on track with this system. For the most part, I stayed technology free so you know my inbox was overflowing with unread messages. But come Monday morning, I spent time responding to messages I could respond to quickly, deleting the junk, and archiving the rest into their appropriate labels. Immediately I felt like I had a solid grasp on everything that had come in.
I absolutely love it and it has been a true time saver and sanity saver!