A few years ago I realized that tasks and comitments were falling through the gaps. I would commit to doing something, often in email, and never get to it.
The main problem was that it was increasingly difficult to keep track of the # of emails coming into my inbox.
So, I created a system. Mine is setup in gmail and so this will be referencing gmail’s interface but you can do this with any email client.
1. Create a tag “To Do”
2. Create a tag “Waiting On”
3. Enable Priority inbox.
To do this go to Settings/Inbox and select “Priority Inbox” under inbox type.
4. Link the “To Do” and “Waiting On” to the categories to the Priority Inbox.
To do this, under Settings/Inbox, configure “Inbox Sections”, set them up in the following way:
Section 1: Unread
Section 2: Your “To Do” label
Section 3: Your “Waiting On” label
Section 4: Everything else
In addition you should set a distinct color for your “To Do” and “Waiting On” labels. I have red and blue respectively.
Now when you look at your inbox you should see 4 sections instead of just one unbox. It’ll still be a bit overwhelming but that will change once we organize and keep up on it.
First time organizing:
1. Go through all your messages and either mark them as “To Do”, “Waiting On” or archive.
– If you have too many messages to go through you should just archive everything and start over. If something is really important you’ll remember it.
2. Thats it, not you should have an inbox that helps you to keep track of the important things instead of overwhelming you.
Daily ongoing process:
1. Once daily, go through all email and mark as To Do”, “Waiting On” or archive. Ideally you only do this 1-2 times a day so that you aren’t constantly reacting to email.
2. Once daily review your tags and take any actions that are necessary. E.g. maybe you need to follow up on something you’ve been waiting on for a few days, or you need to add something from the “To Do” list to your calendar.
I’ve now been using this system for nearly 5 years and its completely removed email as a source of stress.
^Day 255/90 401 words