I'll tell you a secret. There are a few topics here at 43 Folders that always seem to attract a curious crowd. Getting Things Done, Quicksilver, and anything having to do with procrastination always seem to resonate with people. Those are all evergreen.
But one of the issues that consistently draws the most folks here is anything that helps them deal with email. Ah, yes, email. The remarkable tool that was meant to simplify our lives and liberate vast deposits of time and attention now has every person I know on the run. There's too freaking much of it and most of us lack the training and skills to do much but react emotionally and basically let it push us around like that mean kid in the middle school cafeteria.
Here are a few of my favorite (and the site's most popular) posts on that heated topic of email -- how to better deal with email as a recipient, and how to improve the lives of others as a better sender. Email is a subject that invigorates (and occasionally infuriates) me, so get ready for plenty more in the future. But if you're one of the seemingly innumerable people who's snowed under by email or unsure how to deal with it at a responsible level, flip through a few of these oldies, and see if any ideas jump out at you.
- Five fast email productivity tips "There’s been a lot of great discussions about email productivity going around on sites I enjoy, so I thought I’d throw in five no-brainers that I’ve seen help a lot of folks."
- Quick tips on processing your email inbox - "The basic idea is to firewall processing as a discrete phase you go through no more than every hour or two at the most. For God’s sake, don’t live in your Inbox if there’s any way you can avoid it."
- Writing sensible email messages - "As we've seen before, getting your inbound email under control will give you a huge productivity boost, but what about all the emails you send? If you want to be a good email citizen and ensure the kind of results you're looking for, you'll need to craft messages that are concise and easy to deal with. "
- Five email tics I’d love for you to lose - "For the love of God, people; can we get the word out on these?"
- My email diet - "Gmail’s made me see the value of having very few actual folders for storing new and archived mail. It makes it much easier to track and organize your mail on the fly, plus Google’s search and labeling tools let you confidently shunt items out of your inbox constantly without fear of having stuff disappear. So I decided to try a little experiment."
- Fresh Start: The Email DMZ - "Think about it: how much stuff in your life has gotten unmanageable simply because you decided at some point that you were too behind to ever make a difference? More than anything you need a way to recover these projects from the brink — to find the handle that lets you stop making it worse and start seeing a way back toward daylight."
- 4-1/2 tiny ways to master Mail.app - "Seriously, though, suck it up and just check for new mail as seldom as your job and your patience will possibly permit. Really push the envelope on this, even just for half a day, and see if you don’t notice a difference. The world actually can spin without you for a while (but just a little while)."
- Open Thread: The value and quality of email at work - "If I ran a company and learned that most of my employees were spending that much time touching internal email, I’d ask my managers: 'For how many and which employees is six hours of email each day adding value to the company?' Maybe that’s just me."