Archive for the ‘email-IQ’ Category

Honouring a Classic

June 24, 2006

A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email

This is a link to Kaitlin Duck Sherwood's classic and once rather useful guide. Effective Email is not a bad title.  It is, in hindsight an idealistic paper, honourable because of that but also impractical & frustrating.  There is an ideology about email embedded in the work that we now know will remain an ideal. In 2006 this 2000 document is dated.  It is dated not just because it is from the last century or because of new technology (it is somewhat technology neutral, but technology has surpassed these older ideas) but mainly because something completely new is needed

    * to relate to the reality of actual practice
    * to grapple with ineffective practices and fallacies  that have gained more popularity

For example there is a link to a page by Kaitlin Duck Sherwood on Email Overload. Which has a range of tips, some better than others but which is flawed in its attitude to the question.  Even in its title.

There is no such thing as email overload, any more than that there is a library overload, or an art gallery overload, information overload or a shortage of time, or difficult problems… you get the idea, own the challenge, be wise to the flow of stuff, no a victim in the world.

I am planning some posts here around Email Intelligence.  I want to find the central principles of wise email practices.

This is not a trivial thing, a good practitioner would be a back belt in communication, there would be personal fitness combined with a thorough tradition, and like judo would use the energy in the "enemy" as a source of strength, as a friend.  There may be a bigger topic here – the art of communication in the digital era.  I will however focus (slowly I'm afraid) on principles and practices related to email.  And in case you have not spotted, I am already indebted to David Allen's GTD tradition in my thinking here. They are good on email practice, and I also see limitations.

I recall some earlier posts on this theme.  I will create a new tag:  email-IQ and go back & tag some old posts.

Email Like Water

February 11, 2006

I think I am a bit of a Ninja at email and many of the things here:Recap: Becoming an Email Ninja | 43 FoldersSound ok, but there is an underlying idea that email = waste of time.


Some email is a waste of time and some is valuable.

The art is to sort it, not postpone it, avoid it or to have email free hours or days.

I use Thunderbird and use many of the features: filters, flags, and customised Labels and "Search folders". I used to have an extension called "Message Notes" but it does not work with Thunderbird 1.5. Still hoping looking for an equivalent. The sorting happens vertically into folders and what I think of as "horozontally" by multiple tags in a variety of ways.

I apply the six GTD workflow steps. Collecting; (that is easy they just arrive). Processing; most of that is automatic using the software. Organising; doing if it is under 2 min, deleting delegating, organising includes includes linking to Address books, Mind-Maps and the Calendar and thinking about the the associated NAs and alerts reminders needed. Then there is the Reviewing Doing.

As I write this I realise there is philosophy needed to do this well, GDT is part of it, "email like water" also a notion that online communication is deeply revlolutionary for the psyche. This stuff matters.