Saturday, April 5, 2008

Simple Email Management Solution using GMail



I want to share the simple way I manage my email in GMail. Without getting protracted, here's the outline and the video for what I do. Watch the video and let me know what works for you.

My goals...

  1. Process email more efficiently

  2. Reduce mental overhead of managing email


How do I do this?

  1. The inbox is for sorting; if something isn't sorted then it stays in the inbox

  2. Sorting and Prioritizing email at the same time will help you focus on what needs to be done by limiting distractions. That will help you be more efficient.

  3. Separating “to do” items from archived items will help clarify lots of email


Loosely, there are two types of email

  1. Email that references things that need to be done

  2. Email that references things need to be saved


In each of those two categories we need to sort the email into various categories. These categories depend on the types of email we receive. The searching power of Gmail is great, but it falls short when there is nothing specific to search for to retrieve a given email, but the email is related to a certain topic. This is pretty clear to all of us who depend on email.


Let's begin with the framework for how I sort my email.

First, as I mentioned before, there is email that action needs to be taken on. And truthfully, there is a priority to each item. I use a simple labeling system for that. I call it “DO”.

Because action needs to be taken, I want to separate that from archived items. I use the underscore character to differentiate between action items and archive items.

_Do/1 – high priority (today-to-1 week)

_Do/2 – medium priority (1 / 2 weeks)

_Followup – sent / waiting on someone else

_Project – keep handy – related to a specific project, but otherwise can be archived



Other folders of interest:

accounts

newsletters

P/Project

receipt

travel


Other notes:

Use color coding - it's great to see what needs to be done.

Use filters to pre-sort automatically into various labels.