Ideas & Insights
My perspective on creativity, innovation and getting stuff done
When I lead workshops such as Get Organized with Outlook, there are three practices that surprise participants. There’s an immediate reaction that these tips might be hard or might not work for everyone. But, they are some of the most powerful productivity tips I know, when used well.
What is it? Regularly clearing your email inbox, all the way to zero. It doesn’t mean you’ve done everything – it just means that you’ve moved the content of your inbox to where it belongs. Some of it will be on your to-do list.
Why people resist: It takes a disciplined approach, a bit of time and some learning to implement this practice. It feels like a lot of work to people who have hundreds or thousands of emails in their inboxes.
How it can help you: When you practice Inbox Zero, you’ll have made decisions about everything coming your way. You’ll learn to be organized and to decide what matters and what doesn’t.
What is it? Keeping a very minimal email folder structure. I don’t file emails by project/person or topic. I do have a folder where I save everything I might need (e.g. client emails) but I don’t separate them by client.
Why people resist: People often keep complicated filing structures because they think it will help them find an email they need more easily.
How it can help you: By simplifying your folder structures, you’ll spend less time filing emails. If you learn to tag your emails with topics and use the search function effectively, you’ll save a lot of time overall.
What is it? Turning off desktop notifications (like the unread envelope icon). I’ve also turned off notifications on my smartphone.
Why people resist: Because email is such a crucial part of our business lives, people worry they might miss something urgent.
How it can help you: When you’re focusing on something important, turning off the email distraction can help you get your task done twice as fast. When we multi-task we lose time because we have to refocus our attention every time we switch.