Monday, January 16, 2012

Starting My Email Checklist So I Can Begin To Assess My Mental Strength

Yesterday, I talked about my folder structure inside my email account. I then made a list of those folders and put that list into my daily review checklist. While a lot of people look at their email account as an inbox, I look at each folder in my email account as an inbox. I list these folders in an order that is conducive to my workflow and then set out to master the procedures necessary to get each folder working at peak efficiency.

Today, I wanted to start taking the first steps towards getting all of these procedures out of my head and start putting them into my daily review checklist. This in turn will help me build more mental strength by reducing the amount of mental overhead required to process things so that I will have more of it to help me get my email inbox to empty.

To review the purpose of my checklist:

  • Decrease the amount of stuff in my head that I have to remember

  • To define what done looks like on paper

  • To fine tune the order and items on the list for maximum efficiency

  • To determine exactly what my mental strength is (how many tasks I do)

  • To figure out how much weight (tasks) I need to progressively add to increase my mental strength

  • To reduce the time it takes to do the steps on the checklist

The first items on my checklist are easy items. Those are:

  • Turn on computer

  • Log into email account

  • Open inbox folder

  • Open the first email

Now, I have to start to ask myself some questions. I've opened the first email. It's a note from my wife that includes something I need to update on my webpage. It's something I can do quickly (the two minute rule) so I take care of it. I can the archive or delete it. This adds two additional items to my checklist. Those are:

  • Do any tasks I can do in under two minutes

  • Archive or delete email

It's at this point, that I'm also going to start making another checklist. That is to track the kinds of emails I get. The first category of these email "types" is:

  • Email from friends and family

The purpose of recording the type of emails I receive is to batch them together so I can process like things at the same time. I'll discuss this more later when I get into how to filter my email.

For now, let's move onto the next email.

This email is from a blogger I like to read. For this particular blogger I usually read his stuff when it hits my inbox - as opposed to some I get that I kind of pay attention to but don't necessarily feel like I have to read it. This leads to another set of steps.

  • Quickly scan email from bloggers I follow

  • Decide to read it now or read later

  • If I want to read it now, read it

  • Make a note of any actions I might want to take

  • If I want to read it later, file in my read/review file

  • If I read it now, archive or delete it

And also puts another email type on my list which is:

  • Email from bloggers I like to read now

  • Email from bloggers I like to read but can wait til I have time

I read it and filed it in my read/review file.

Next up is an email from a company I work with. It's a special discount offer from the company I host my website with. When I get these offers, I usually archive them so if I need them at a later date, I can pull them out of my email just by searching for the name of the company.

  • Archive offers from companies I work with if not needed now

  • File offers from companies I work with in "Action" folder if I need it now

And add another type of email to my email "type" list:

  • Offers from companies I work with

So basically, I do this with each email I receive until I have exhausted the types and started to put the steps in to handle each type.

Once I have done this for a few sessions, I'll have a pretty detailed checklist as well as a fairly good idea of most of the types of emails I receive. The next step for me is to start to fine tune the checklist by optimizing the order of the items on the checklist and add or subtract things from the list as well as start to automate some of the things such as filtering emails like offers from companies I use into a read review file for later sorting.

Also keep in mind that as I build this checklist, it's a rough draft that will be refined as I go along.

If you are a member, you can see my full checklist by clicking the link in the signature of my forum posts as I work on it by becoming a member of the Black Belt Project today.

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Michael Kuhn

Black Belt Project: Build Mental Strength