Improving your email productivity – a suggested method

If you are struggling with your email inbox then this quick technique can have deep and long-lasting benefits in staying on top of your actions, reading and responses.

Adding 3 new folders to your email inbox

In the book Getting things done, the author David Allen explores about the ‘mythical’ inbox Zero of email. In my experience, this is now not a myth as I strive to be at email inbox zero at the end of my morning startup routine.
He suggests creating three folders in your email.

  •  *action – this is a folder where you put the emails that require more than a 2-minute action (Eg – they need SCHEDULING into your diary. Do that else it won’t get done)
  •  *waiting – this is the folder you put emails that you are waiting for a response on.
  •  *hold – placing useful emails here might be good. I use this folder for joining instructions for conferences, or webinars, or training sessions I am running.

As ever, the preferred model is only as good as how it can be worked for us individually.

Additional folder

I found that three inboxes were insufficient to work with all my emails and so I introduced the fourth folder. This fourth folder is labelled *to read and is where I place all the emails that I want to read. I can schedule some time to ‘batch read’ these inspirations but I also do one other thing – if I don’t get value then I unsubscribe.

You may have some other ideas as to how this type of method can be enhanced and work for you. I woudl suggest that you need to run any change like this for a month to bed in the new process (and to think about how you can amend to suit you better if you think you need to).

Interestingly, this type of activity can also be used to enhance other processes such as Slack, or social media.

The model first appeared in COACHd