Be honest … how much of the crap that crosses your Inbox in Outlook every single day is worth even one glance? How much? I can tell you … about 10 percent of it is worth even having contact with. Now you may not know this about me but I was at one point a Tim Ferris skeptic, however after trying his 4 Hour Body diet ( and it worked ! ), I went back and read The 4 Hour Work Week. This lead me to the simple conclusion that I need to operate different. So here goes…
I don't want to spend my whole day reading meaningless E-Mails, you know… the ones that everybody and their brother got copied on because someone abuses the Carbon Copy ( CC ) feature. Believe it or not, those people don't know that the boss and the rest of the team does not care about the size, color, shape, and smell of … well everything they do, and neither do you.
Set Up An Important Inbox
I had to come up with a solution to all of this and the solution is… The Important Inbox! Simply go into Outlook and create a Folder titled:
Why the funky name? Well after reading David Allen's GTD I started putting a symbol in front of folders I want to pop above all others. The @ sign in front of the folder name will move it to the top.
Here's my Important Inbox:
(notice the 155 emails in one day, and only 1 that made it to Important, that's the start to a 4 Hour Workweek)
Creating Important Inbox Rules
Now that you have your Important Inbox, you need to set up rules. This is easy. As you monitor your Inbox over the next two weeks be a skeptic, and allow mail from only people that you specifically work with or with whom you need to have direct contact.
- Right Click the E-Mail
- Mouse Over Rules
- Click Always Move Messages From: [ name ]
Here is a screenshot of how:
Once you do this you're going to get a popup asking you where you want to move this persons E-Mails, so pick your Important Inbox. Like this:
Create Desktop Alerts For Your Important Inbox
.:: This is critical! ::. You need to set up Desktop Alerts for your Important Mail. That means that when a sender that was White Listed sends you and E-Mail you will get a meeting style notification pop-up.
You can ignore it, but more importantly you are now "That guy or gal that's dependable and always responds right away" … At least you are that to the people you care about and work with.
In Outlook 2010:
- Click Rules on the Home ribbon.
- Click Manage Rules and Alerts.
- Find all the rules for your Imporant Peeps and Highlight them.
- Click Change Rule and then make sure that Display in the New Item Alert window option is checked.
That's it… Here's a screenshot:
Now when you get a new Important E-Mail you will see something like this come up:
Note: Make sure you Close the window whenever it pops up, othewise it will just aggregate E-Mail in the list and not pop up. So open the item, and then immediately close the popup.
So in the course of the next two weeks, when you get E-Mail from your direct co-workers that aren't spammy or from people you need to respond to because it DIRECTLY involves your job duties white-list that E-Mail by following this process.
A special note to all those content consumers out there. This technique is used to make you more productive by reducing noise. You should NEVER move mail into your Important Inbox from news sites, funny sites, Facebook, Twitter, that guy that sends fun chain letters, etc. DO NOT POLLUTE YOUR IMPORTANT INBOX WITH CRAP!
That's it! Get ready for junk free mail!
Part 2: The Rule of Three's ( Next part will follow in the coming days … )
Part 3: How To Stop Losing Stuff
Part 4: How To Stop Forgetting To Do Stuff
Part 5: How to Prioritize Tasks
Part 6: How to Archive Stuff
Part 7: How to Clean Up Your Desktop