During a recent Individual Development Plan (IDP) review session with a leader, we were discussing methods or frameworks to increase productivity and ensure quality. This conversation then led to a specific question of how do I manage my email inbox? I never thought much about this because my process seems to work pretty well, but it did spark my interest. So after sharing my method with this teammate, I did some quick research and came across a New York Times bestselling author, David Allen, and his book Getting Things Done. After studying his quick infographic below, I realized the method of managing my email inbox mirrored his workflow with one exception.
It starts with one simple question, does this email require action (yes/no)?
If yes, then you either:
(a) defer it for later using a calendar entry or task reminder
(b) delegate it to someone else and possibly set a personal follow-up reminder
(c) do it immediately if the effort is less than a couple of minutes. This may also include following up with the sender for more information that may be required to take action. Note: this can have added benefits in terms of acknowledging the senders’ needs, demonstrating a sense of responsiveness, and potentially helping others by seeking clarity for the group.
If no, then either:
(a) delete it, if there is no current or future value
(b) do nothing, keeping it for future reference. I don’t personally spend the extra time filing/sorting/organizing emails into folders these days because of how well the search features work. Note: you need to check your company retention policy to ensure your alignment.
If you are looking for something *new* to try, give it a shot!