Tuesday, June 2, 2009

GTD Email And Other Electronic Inboxes

OK. Now I've been working through my Getting Things Done GTD Thirty Day Challenge and now I am on to working on my GTD email. If you've been following along, I've gotten my collection caught up, I've my voicemail and text messages to zero. Now, it's time to move forward a little more by moving onto my email inbox.

The key here is now that things are moving, it's important to draw a line at your current progress and not fall back. For me then, I should get to the same point on my GTD checklist that I have already reached and try and get farther. I should continue to process everything up to the point I am on my to do list.

While I could work on my paper inbox, I process my physical inbox last. I do this because I find this to be the hardest inbox to zero out. What I am trying to do is create momentum from easiest to hardest tasks to complete. The other advantage to doing it this way, is if something is to difficult to get out of my inbox, I can print it out and put it in my paper inbox to keep it moving.

As usual, if you know me by now, you know that I am going to first suggest that you make a list of all your electronic email inboxes. Here are mine:

  • Email grouplifeguy

  • Email glgamerica

  • Email thirty

I think it's appropriate to include all of the other accounts you might have as well. Things like:

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Youtube

  • Myspace

  • Comments blackbeltproject

  • Comments on other website

  • Check blogcatalog

  • Check adsense account

  • Check statcounter

One way you can stream your getting things done email is by having these third parties send you alerts when you have an email. Then when they need checked, you'll be emailed.

So I haven't been processing my email since I went on vacation a few weeks ago. I am behind on it somewhat. In fact, here is the status of my email right now:

  • Inbox 538

  • Spam 211

  • Action Items 44

  • Yahoo reminders 207

You can see that I have my email is backed up a little bit. Usually it's a zero everyday. I have a process that I go through each and every time I check my email. Here is my checklist:

  • Open email

  • Open calendar

  • Open basecamp

  • Check inbox

  • Delete all trash

  • Mark all spam

  • File all informational email in reference file (archives)

  • Do any quick emails

  • File longer task emails in Action folder

  • Review spam folder for misfiltered email

  • Mark email misfiltered as such

  • Reprocess inbox

  • Empty trash folder

  • Review read review folder

  • If time permits read or review those emails

  • Review waiting for

  • Delete items received

  • Items that need action go to action folder

  • Review Yahoo reminders folder

  • Delete or file reminders that are completed

  • Move actionable reminders to action folder

  • Review action folder and treat it as a new inbox

  • Work through emails in action folder until they get to zero

  • Repeat for each email account

  • Process notifications in Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

  • Clear out Blackberry email to zero

  • Clear out alerts in Blackberry

I walk through my process of getting my GTD email to zero in the video below. There is also one below that summarizing this post.

Related Article

Michael Kuhn

Black Belt Project: Build Mental Strength


What email client are you using with this set-up?

At the time I wrote that I used Yahoo! Plus. I have switched to gmail now - google apps specifically.