Email management: When explicit decisions are not enough!

by Richard Maybury on June 6, 2009

Let’s face it, every now and again we get a mail that doesn’t fit into the classic decision making format. Sometimes a mail hits us and we do a Homer D’Oh! , we want to keep it ’Just in case’ BUT we don’t want to have an inbox cluttered with incompletions and ‘one-day-I-may-look-at-this’ stuff

Introducing the 5D email management process

now, I’m not suggesting that you make a habit of adding the 5th D, after all that would be a form of procrastination if we let it go too far but here’s an approach to managing this often inevitable ‘Faff factor’ when dealing with emails.

  1. Create a numbered sub folder directly under your Inbox, call it something uncool like ’05 D’Oh’ or even ’05 Faff’ ( you don’t want to reward yourself too much for feeding it!)
  2. Once it is created, right-click on the new folder and select ‘Properties’
  3. Hit the ‘AutoArchive’ tab
  4. Select ‘Archive this folder using these settings’ and select the appropriate period for you and then select ‘Permanently delete old items’ 
  5. Click ‘OK’ to exit

Now, if you get a mail you think might be useful sometime later and you don’t want to create a specific ‘next step action’ for it, simply drag it into your Faff Folder.

When you get a moment you can simply scroll through this folder to see if anything excites, motivates or otherwise prompts you into making a 4D decision knowing that stuff over a certain age will be terminated. If you want to know how many ‘one-day’ mails are in this folder you could change the ‘unopened’ default numerator to a total mail numerator by again right-clicking on the folder name and hitting ‘Properties’ and in the ‘General’ tab select the ‘Show total number of items’ button and hit OK to exit.

How do you manage your ‘One day’ type emails raight now? What works for you – I’d be interested to hear fro you.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Maybury August 29, 2009 at 11:24 am

What to call it? I like the sound of a Homer D’oh! but that’s not formal enough to tag as a process step. ‘Don’t Decide’ probably does it for me. It also classifies the ‘decision’ as a pending one.

Matthew Cornell August 28, 2009 at 6:14 pm

An interesting mix of GTD’s Someday/Maybe folder, but I see some risks. Putting off important decisions and bypassing important periodic reviews come to mind. Question: What’s the actual “D” verb? Don’t decide?

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