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09 Apr

Unread, unsolved or reluctance

Datum: 2024-04-09 09:13
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Many of us work more or less com­plete­ly dig­i­tal­ly. Paper is almost passé to those who do. But they still can not seem to escape the piles. They are still there but in a slight­ly dif­fer­ent for­mat. The wood­en desk is emp­ty, but the com­put­er desk­top is beyond crowd­ed with doc­u­ments. Many have a mul­ti­tude of things to do spin­ning in their minds which need to get done, only not right now. And then we have emails. The inbox can be filled to the brim with emails and the list of cor­re­spon­dence so long that it takes you min­utes to scroll through.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

No more piles

Every day we do all kinds of things in many dif­fer­ent con­texts to try to reduce the dif­fer­ent piles. We make calls, for­mu­late, send, book, gath­er and more, to cross as many things as pos­si­ble from the pile of to-do-tasks. We clean out unnec­es­sary doc­u­ments from the com­put­er desk­top. We take out the receipts and notes from lasts week’s busi­ness trip and scan them into the com­put­er so that we do not have to keep them in their phys­i­cal form. We answer some emails and then again we begin call­ing, for­mu­lat­ing, send­ing and so forth, all over again.

Not fin­ished, but under control

The cir­cle can seem hope­less since it feels as if none of these piles ever will dis­ap­pear.
Will we ever be fin­ished? Prob­a­bly not. But with quite sim­ple means we will be able to feel caught up now and then, and this is a feel­ing well worth the effort to strive for.

Let us talk about the email inbox, because many I meet expe­ri­ence it as some­what of a con­stant, irri­tat­ing incon­ve­nience. If we resist the temp­ta­tion to save and store our emails in the inbox where we are meant to only look for new emails, we will feel caught up on a reg­u­lar basis. By not doing this, we auto­mat­i­cal­ly reduce” the pile of emails, and feel at least a lit­tle lighter.

One out of three

You have unques­tion­ably heard this advice before, but you might still tend to leave emails lay­ing about in the inbox — and for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time too. The rea­son prob­a­bly being one of the following:

  • The email is unread.
  • The email, or what it con­cerns, is unsolved.
  • The email is read and solved, but you find no rea­son to move it. Let us, for the sake of sym­me­try, say that you are reluc­tant to put it some­where else.

In all three cas­es, we can do some­thing about it.

Do this

  1. Take a look at your inbox right now.
  2. If there are emails that are both read and solved, move them some­where else — for exam­ple to a file called Archive” (if you need to keep them at all).
  3. If there are emails that are read, but which are still not solved, for­mu­late what you need to do to solve them and make note of the result­ing to-do-task where you keep oth­er things you have not solved yet. This can be in the place where you keep your to-do-tasks or where you have got an overview of the more exten­sive tasks that need to be solved and which take more than a day to com­plete. Move or throw away the unsolved emails. The email inbox is not the place to mon­i­tor your tasks — this is prefer­ably done in a place or tool where you can see every­thing at once, for exam­ple, your to-do-list.
  4. If there are unread emails, read them the next time you go through your inbox (some­thing we ought to do inten­tion­al­ly when we active­ly choose to rather than keep­ing its tab open all the time). Solve them instant­ly or write down what you need to do in order to solve them, and then move them some­where else oth­er than the inbox (same as above).

That’s it. It is not very hard, after all.

Caught up once again

If you do some­thing about your habit of leav­ing emails in the inbox even though you have read them, you will feel caught up more often. Instead of hav­ing this pile hang­ing over you, you will con­quer it — again and again.

What’s your way?

How do you quick­ly and swift­ly deal with the piles that tend to build up (even though we work dig­i­tal­ly and have got­ten rid of all the papers)? Tell me!

(By the way, have you noticed how essen­tial clear­ly writ­ten sub­ject lines are?

Do you want more?

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If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

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