43 Folders

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Anyone else having problems replying to emails?

I'm so bad replying to emails. They just keep piling. I read them the moment they come, but something keeps me from replying or acting on them. How do you deal with emails? Do having specific blocks of time devoted to email writing works for you? How you balance replying to emails with the other parts of your work? Is anyone using Groupwise for your emails? Any tips for using it? The new version is able to attach labels to the emails and changes the color of the header accordingly. Now I have a very colorful inbox but as full as before.

Keely's picture

I'm big on trying to...

I'm big on trying to keep an empty inbox (19 in there right now). I'm not so much a fan of folders to process incoming mail because they tend to squirrel away things as "filed" that still need to be done. But as Laura says, there's nothing worse than a piled-up inbox. So here's my strategy:

1. Turn off auto send/receive option.

Your inbox is not the boss of you. Check your email when you're ready. If it's an emergency, there's this weird thingy called a phone. Otherwise, it can wait 2/3/4 hours until you have time set aside in your day to process emails.

2. Have a quickie.

Yes, a poor attempt to make quick responses sound sexy. But it is rather fun to whip off all the 30s. replies and hit the 'ole delete button. Or, nearly as satisfying, file it away in whatever folder system you have.

3. Everything else gets turned into tasks.

This is why I will not exist without a PIM that incorporates email. When a response is going to take several minutes, or needs information from somewhere else, or otherwise would necessitate that email lounging around my inbox for more than a day, I make it a task. If I'm in Entourage, I use a "Create Task from Message" script (assigned to the shortcut key ^T) (darn, I've forgotten if it was built-in to E or if I downloaded it from somewhere). It pulls the subject line and body of the message into the description and memo of the newly-created task, which I then contextualize in the spirit of GTD and assign to the appropriate category (i.e. ".Waiting For", ".Errands"), and date it. Now it's out of mind, ready to be "done" when the context hits me on the right day.

Hope that helps!




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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