Every morning when I get up there is a all manner of things waiting for me in my inbox. This morning there were 251 emails (it was about 6 hours between checking them – this number doesn’t include the 200+ emails that came in telling me about deleted comment spam). The morning inbox clearing process is taking an increasing amount of time. It has this strange way of setting the agenda and tone of the day. I always approach it with a mixture of apprehension and excitement at the unknown things it might contain.
In the inbox this morning was:
- 100 or so comments from my blogs (a few of them spam that got through the spam killer plugins that needed my attention)
- a couple of blogging opportunities to follow up (I’m always amazed at the array of interesting projects people are working on)
- two requests for interviews (one podcast one, another via email)
- a load of b5 correspondence from b5 bloggers and directors
- 80 or so news alerts and press releases on different keywords that I follow in Google News and Topix (yeah I know they do RSS, but there are a few words I like to follow via email as well)
- one or two hate emails (unfortunately a daily thing these days)
- a couple of encouraging emails (I try to focus more on these than the previous category of emails)
- 15 ‘can you check out my blog/new product’ emails (emails that I find it hard to keep up with these days)
- a number of suggestions from blog readers on how I might improve my blog or topics they’d like to see me cover
- quite a few questions from my different blog’s readers (I get a lot of these on my digital camera blog)
- a few suggestions of links I might like to check out.
Here’s three of the links suggested today from ProBlogger readers:
- Zach suggested I check out Why You Should Consider Budgeting a Site Redesign for Firefox 1.5 Now
- Greg suggested I look at Wordsmits hail podcast success
- Terry recommends Big Brains Mean ‘Tiny Testes’ (Not blogging related but it made me think of one or two bloggers who must have massive testes!)
It was a pretty typical array of email to deal with. In fact it was probably a bit lighter than normal, although since daylight savings came in I find that the first couple of hours of the day tend to bring in the biggest numbers of emails each day.
Dealing with email can be a pretty overwhelming experience so I’m attempting to develop systems for dealing with it. I’ve slowed down the frequency that my email is checked, but also have a triage type system which I’m trying to use to help me deal with it. As it comes in I have three categories.
1. Junk - some email goes straight in the Trash. This includes spam, the majority of comments on blogs that don’t need following up but which I read to keep my finger on the pulse and a few other miscellaneous emails. I ‘junk’ around 30% of my email.
2. Respond Now - if I can deal with the email in less than 3 minutes I try to do so immediately. This includes answering simple questions, responding to comments threads that need my attention etc. This makes up about 40% of my email. The more of this that I can do in the moment the clearer my day is.
3. Later – These are emails that will take longer to respond to. They fall into two subcategories really.
a. Firstly there is ‘later today’ - these are the urgent emails that will take a bit of thought, a phone call or an IM conversation to sort out. I try to schedule these into my daily to do lists. It also includes emails that result in posts on my blog (ie when someone asks a question that I want to turn into a post, where someone suggests a topic or a link etc).
b. Secondly there are those ‘much later’ emails which could get done today if I get time but will probably have to wait a few days, weeks… and even months. These include some interview requests, bigger questions from readers etc. While I’d love to respond to every request sometimes it’s just impossible. I quite often clear these much later type emails all at once every few weeks when I take my laptop down to a local cafe where I can be offline and churn through them.
How do you deal with email? Got any productivity tips for the rest of us?