Here is my one-week check-in for my Avoid, Embrace project on email. So far, the biggest change I have made is in filtering out forwards into their own folder. In Gmail, I used this filter to do the trick:
from:(email address of forwarder | email address of another forwarder)
to:(-my email address)
Do this: Skip Inbox, Apply label “SA/Forwards”
I chose to deal with them as “announcements” per ActiveInbox’s built-in label category, but you can use anything you like.
Filtered out into their own folder, I can look at the subject lines and delete accordingly. Now the only items in my “Someday” category are things I want to legitimately do or review someday. This is a huge win!
The “Time” labels have been somewhat helpful, but because I am on spring break this week, I am just going through messages regardless of how long I think they might take.
I have been setting meaningful deadlines, for the most part, but I am pretty lazy at the moment so there are some un-deadlined items floating about that I need to attack.
The state of my email, as of right now:
It looks pretty good from here.
Next up in my Avoid, Embrace project: the email situation.
Step one: write about something I have been avoiding.
What is not nice is the 132 emails that need some sort of attention on my part. (That number increased to 137 just since I started writing this. Yikes.) I look at these emails in their pretty little categories that make sense, but I don’t do anything with them.
Clearly, the first ones I need to tackle are my Flagged items. I flag email sparingly; it usually means that if I do not do this as soon as possible today, something Very Bad will happen. There is only one thing here today, and I can get it done this afternoon. Good! Yay!
The next category is the generic Action, or things I need to do something about, be it read closely, respond, or create a to-do on my list. Right now, there are ten items. This is where I get bogged down. I look at the list and I do not see anything I can do within two minutes (a GTD trick). So I go somewhere else.
Then there are seven Waiting On items. These don’t require me to do anything yet, but could turn into Action items at any moment. They make me uneasy, just sitting there all unfinished-like.
The big bad is the Someday category, with 120 items. I sense I am putting things in Someday I should either just throw away (hello, forwarded Maxine comics, do you really need me to reply “haha” to you) or deal with sooner in Action. And I have just confirmed that over half of these are forwards.
Step two: embrace the thing I have been avoiding.
The trick to this Avoid, Embrace is not just to power through these but to put a plan in place for dealing with them in the future. My improvements are as follows:
That is enough for now. I will report back on my results!