I really like the website 43Folders. It’s jam-packed with ways to make yourself more productive. I try to avoid the anti-productive temptation to spend a lot of time there reading and watching videos, but one caught my eye the other day when I was Google-searching for answers on email troubleshooting. I found this great video on how to manage your inbox. If you’re reading this, you likely spend time on a computer, and like, most of us, spend time wading through emails. This video helps you gain control of your inbox so that you manage your mail rather than letting it manage you.
One of the first things Merlin Mann, the speaker and founder of 43Folders, says, is to turn off alerts for new mail and only check your email every hour. Most of us grew up on email and that little bell drives a Pavlovian response we learned in the early days when email meant news from a friend or maybe even a love letter. Today, the little ping, or heaven forbid, “you’ve got mail,” just means more spam, a directive from a co-worker or boss, or another sappy powerpoint filled with cute kittens. So, first thing is to turn off that little bell. It’s really hard to do. I argued with my worser self for a while on this: “what if I’m waiting for a VERY important email? How would I know it’s arrived. If it’s that important, turn the bell back on, or start at the screen until you see it appear.
Not checking email until the top of the hour is even harder, but luckily the computer has a way to notify you every 60 minutes, so you can quit clock-watching and focus on your work.
The video is funny, engaging, and has some other email productivity tips on archiving and folders. For dads trying to save time so they can get home and see the kids, this is worth a watch. Your co-workers might thank you as well.