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inbox zero

Oh my gosh I get so much more email now that I'm in customer service.

I got a lot before... I never kept track of how many, but I'd count my sent items: I used to send about 20 emails a day. That was in engineering land, and I thought I emailed a lot, but most of my "work" was writing reports, talking to people, visiting the airplane I was working on that was within a mile of my desk, if not 100 feet.

Missing an email wasn't that big a deal. I mean it was, sort of, but the consequences were minimal... someone would be calling or visiting you.

Responding to an email or not wasn't always a life changing thing. Since we all knew what we were doing, working on the same big project, you could safely ignore your inbox for a bit until it was time to go looking for information you *needed*. You weren't going to be emailed some huge new assignment, if you were it was usually pre-addressed in a staff meeting... "all the reports are being assigned this week, look for the email". Heck, if you replied too fast to an email, people would think you weren't busy enough. What do you do all day, sit there and wait for a new email to show up? You need more assignments!

Customer service is a whole new ball game because my assignments really do come from the air at a rate of a zillion a day or something, and it got very complicated to keep up with. I used my normal system for a while... read emails as they come in, keep the important ones in my head. Then I learned that outlook has an "unread" filter and that got important. Then I started making folders for the big deal customers and active projects, combined with a status report I kept going that helped people (and me) know what I'd made into a folder. Even THAT didn't cut it.

So my latest thing I'm trying, and I think it's helping a ton... INBOX ZERO.

Leave nothing in your inbox. Decide what to do with everything, and if possible, do it immediately. Now as soon as I read an email it either gets...

1) archived. As in, this requires no response from me, but I'd like it around for reference just for 90 days or so.
2) deleted. Usually just the really simple stuff like someone saying "thanks!"
3) thrown in a project folder, with my status sheet updated correctly to keep me from forgetting about it.
4) and rarely, added to "follow up", which is really just a folder of pretty low priority stuff that can wait until Friday. I try to take some time to go visit it but it's also things that will not cause the world to blow up if I can't get to them this week.

It's rough. I was in training for a few days this week and got behind, so Friday when I left work I had something like 200 emails in my inbox. I sorted by subject line and attacked it all over the weekend. Now I'm at zero again, but it won't last long.

The thing I know though is that I won't miss email, and it's gotten me better at making a decision and replying quickly to requests.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2019 05:47 pm (UTC)
Our Outlook configuration divides mail into Focused and Other. Focused is for mail from my group, my customer, and corporate stuff, while Other picks up various newsletters and event notices. I find this more helpful than I ever would have been expected to.
Apr. 26th, 2019 03:37 am (UTC)
I have that too - most everything is "Focused" though. It is nice that daily updates and scheduled newsletters and things go to "other".
Apr. 26th, 2019 01:19 am (UTC)
I am learning to hate email. I had a long weekend followed by a medical appointment and then a half day because I wasn’t feeling well. I try hard to keep my emails down to a dull roar, but still have 30+ unread. Mailbox zero is something I would like to achieve, but just can’t do. The best I can do is decide that if I haven’t needed to deal with something after 90 days, it was transactional and can safely be deleted rather than put into the electronic filing system.
Apr. 26th, 2019 11:45 am (UTC)
It's like that business maxim of "handle every paper only once." But in cyber paper.
May. 7th, 2019 02:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, Need this for work. *takes note*
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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