I’ve been on and off the Getting Things Done lifestyle as described in David Allen’s book. Whilst, I’m not yet at the point of evangelizing the change, I definitely think that I’ve been able to improve certain elements of how I receive and process information. Recently I came across a message on What’s The Next Action regarding the 6 types of e-mail that people typically receive and how to best process them.
- E-mail you’ve read and there’s no action associated with it and you don’t need to keep it for reference. So delete it!
- E-mail you’ve read and there’s no action associated with it right now but perhaps on a later date. So incubate it or file it!
- E-mail you’ve read and decided there is an action but you are not sure what the action is. So incubate it or defer it!
- E-mail you’ve read and decided there is an action and you know what the action is but you haven’t come around to doing it. So put it on a Next Action list in the appropriate context!
- E-mail you’ve read and decided there is an action and you actually did the action. But now you are waiting on some sort of reply from someone or they need to track the outcome of that action. So put it on a “Waiting For” list!
- Email you haven’t read yet. Those are the only emails that should be in your Inbox!
In general by following some of the above principles I’ve been able to keep my Inbox down to about 10 messages and when I go on vacation or the semester starts it’s becoming much easier to return to the ready state of 0 messages in my Inbox.