Tuesday, February 9, 2010

28 Days To Living Organized - Day 9 - Tackle E-Waste

28 days to Living Organized

Tackle E-Waste

We've worked through a space in your home.  We're living with that change.
We've de-cluttered a small area.
It's now time to move to the one area of everyone's life in which it's easy to overlook the cobwebs.... Our computers and on-line life.

What do I mean by E-Waste?  Electronic Waste.

You have it.  Emails in your inbox that are older than your children.  Facebook friends that you've met one time in real life and never bother to read a status update on.  Documents tucked neatly into folders that will never again see the light of your glowing computer monitor.

It's time to tackle these areas of our life.

I'm going to introduce you to a radical concept...

I cannot take credit for this idea.  It is the brainchild of Merlin Mann and has been around a few years.  But it is brilliant.  I can tell you from experience that it is a great way to live.

If you want complete information from Mr. Mann, check out this video of a presentation he gave back in 2007.

But here is the general idea...
Your inbox is not meant to be a catch-all.  Your in-box is not meant to be a to-do list. Your inbox is a temporary holding place for things coming in that need to be acted upon.  The equilibrium state of your inbox is empty.

Have you gasped in horror yet?  I did when I first heard it.  "But... but... but... I leave things in my inbox so I remember to work on them" I stammered.  And yet I will challenge you to do things differently.

When something comes into your inbox take one of the following actions:

It sounds so easy.  And once you start doing it it really is.

The goal is to "process to zero" every time you check your email.

Delete - be ruthless. Get rid of the junk as soon as you see it.  If you are copied on something that doesn't pertain to you, delete. If it's junk mail or spam or a newsletter you will never read, delete
Archive - there are some things you need to keep.  Maybe they are informational things that you will need to reference in the future.  Or maybe it's something you need to keep for cover-your-bases future needs.
Delegate - Are you the right person for this?  I believe you know within the first 10 seconds of reading an email if it really needs someone else to take action.  If it does, forward to the right person
Respond - Don't delay.  Just answer the question.  I can hear your objection already... I can't respond right now, I'm in the middle of something else.  I have a simple answer. If you are in the middle of something don't check your email!  Set aside a time for email.  Maybe it's the beginning and end of the day.  Maybe it's once every hour.  Don't stop in the middle of a project just because you got a pop-up about an email from your Great Aunt Millie.
Defer - If the response requires more than you can do in the time you have allotted for your email, or needs to be added to your priority list then defer it.  Create a DEFER folder and put things there.  Set aside a time on a regular basis (daily, weekly) to work through those items.
Do - These are things that are non-email actions.  They require you to get off your duff (or get out of your inbox) and DO something.  Do it.  If you can't do it right now (because it requires research or resources you don't have) then schedule it.

Over the next five days we'll work through each of these in more detail.

For now, just give it a start.  If you have 800 emails in your inbox today, don't worry about tackling all of those.  Just start from this moment and go forward.  Start with what came in today.  In a few days we'll work on getting back through those old ones.

I want using your email to be a delightful experience.

Read the rest of the email topics in this series!
Delete & Archive
Clear the Backlog

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