You have (no) mail

I’ve been a fan of David Allen’s system of Getting Things Done for a while, but have always had trouble keeping an empty inbox.
Until now…

Notes: empty.

Gmail: also empty.

What difference does this make to my life? Mainly just that I no longer struggle to distinguish actions from reference material. Previously, when my monolithic inbox got really bad I’d ‘mark as unread’ things I knew I still had to do, but deep down I knew the notion of new-and-unread and something-to-do were distinct, and that something was wrong. I’ve maintained two empty inboxes for a week now, and I see no reason not to be able to keep them that way.

When new email arrives it will either be junk, reference or an action.

  • Junk is the best, since it’s deleted on sight and takes no more of my time or energy.
  • Reference material goes into an ‘archive’ folder, which largely gets ignored until I need something. My archive is a (fairly coarse) hierarchy. I’m too lazy for anything too elaborate here, so I’ll probably end up relying on search tools to find things.
  • If it’s an action – an email containing something I have to do – I ask myself, “can I deal with this right now, in less than one minute?” and if I can I do it there and then. (the book suggests two minutes, but I find that something I think will take two minutes will end up taking five or ten). If it will take longer then it’s moved to an ‘actions’ folder for when I do have time do it.

If you’ve never heard of Getting Things Done, I’d recommend 43 Folders’ GTD introduction as a great place to start.

– Roo Reynolds (Pervasive Messaging Technologies, IBM Hursley)

One thought on “You have (no) mail

  1. Pingback: Roo Reynolds - What’s Next? » Blog Archive » Inbox Zero - Merlin Mann’s tech talk

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