My Pipeline Is My Inbox

I keep seeing folks with thousands emails inside their Inbox... I hardly can get it. Actually I do not get it. I cannot imagine  actual mail box getting filled with thousands of letters - so why making your Outlook Inbox a trash can?

As a consultant I spend most of my work time working on my laptop - writing code, writing docs, reviewing stuff, summarizing meetings, etc. Context switching is of high rate but My life Definitely Changed When I understood that Focus Is The Key

I decided that the simplest way to focus one my action items is get them into one place - my Outlook Inbox. My customers send me emails, my friends send me emails, my manager sends me emails, my colleagues send me emails. So if I have some other action item - I got phone call, I have some idea, etc - then I just do post (ctrl+shift+S) into my Inbox.

Once in inbox I need to handle all this avalanche of emails. Just like I clean my mail box, I do the same with my Inbox. I set some time - usually in the morning - just after I walked my dog and before kids wake up, but any other time works too. What I do with mails is the following (the ultimate goal is to sort while scanning my Inbox - not to read!):

  • Junk move to delete
  • Tech good stuff move to KB pst. NO READING in depth!
  • Customer/Engagement specific FYI move to Customer/Engagement pst
  • Action item (from customer, my manager, my peer, myself) - block time slot in the calendar to handle it. Just block time slot, put the email in it and forget. When the time comes - I am in context to deep dive into it.
  • Personal move to personal pst

Takes me minutes to clean the Inbox and block times to handle it afterwards.

If my Inbox  grows I start to worry since I know there is something I do not have (have not blocked) time to handle it and it can get worse. The worst thing for me is when Inbox gets scroll bar.

When my Inbox is clean I know everything is planned so I can go ahead and change the plan (or just execute against it) rather skipping from one fire alarm to another.

Comments (13)

  1. Blocking time slot in the calendar is a good tip…

    I use gmail. In gmail you can configure filters – so personal lands in personal, customers stuff lands in customers and so on instead of inbox.

  2. Alik Levin says:

    You can do filters and rules in OL too. The point is that i DO want everything to land into ONE place and that is Inbox. I tried using, tasks, flags, reminders, even OneNote… It turned out to be very distracting to me. When it is in my inbox I can very fast scan it using my right hand and up and down arrows. My right hand is on delete button, or in tandem with left hand presses cntrl+shift+V to pop up Move UI, or drop the item onto Calendar this time using mouse (trying not to use mouse as possible). Skipping between folders and clicking here and there takes me out of focus.

    Happy you like my posts 🙂

    BTW, I checked your linkedind profile – seems like we have common friends :), ABG… small world

  3. alik levin's says:

    I always do meeting summaries. It keeps track for what/who/when. I do not care to do summaries for someone

  4. alik levin's says:

    Focus is the key for me to have things done, although I have my technique to manage my work pipeline

  5. Stay Focus, Stay Foolish! That’s the key to success.

    Randolf Rincón.

  6. Alik Levin says:

    Randolf, can you elaborate on how staying foolish one gets success?

  7. alik levin's says:

    Using mouse is inefficient and slow – for detailed explanation go here These are my favorite (those I

  8. alik levin's says:

    Every creature on that planet has exactly the same 24 hours a day – no more, no less. So what this "I

  9. alik levin's says:

    I used couple of RSS readers but lately I switched to my Outlook 2007 to meet WEB 2.0 era. Here is what

  10. alik levin's says:

    Information is all over – emails, blogs, notes, posts. While I consolidate incoming information in my

  11. alik levin's says:

    In Why I Blog post I set my blogging goals, now it is time to review where I am standing: Journaling

  12. Satisfy Me says:

    A sunny day and expecting more sun this weekend. Here are a few articles from the reading file and ones

  13. alik levin's says:

    patterns&practices recently released new version of Guidance Explorer [GE]. One of the most important

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