We must stop. We cannot go on. It’s too painful.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

We must stop using our email inbox as a to do list. We cannot go on running our days from that list of dozens, nay, thousands of emails. It’s too painful and we all know it. Our email inbox makes a horrible to do list. Here’s why.

First, a list of emails offers us no perspective. It’s just a pile. We have no good way to extract from the pile what’s doable, what’s FYI, what’s to be delegated, what’s reference, and what’s garbage. We cannot access our higher levels of organization like the projects we are working on or our goals. And there is no way to scan a pile of emails to know what is the most compelling thing to do right now.

Second, a list of emails is biased and binding. Emails contain an overabundance of requests (demands?) from other people. They say pretty much nothing about our perspective or what we would choose to do. We can easily feel trapped.


We default to using our email inbox because it looks easier than building and nurturing an effectiveness system (and here and here). It so is not. Any investment we make in our system will pay back handsomely.


In your corner,


PS: Yes, we can try to work our email inbox using stars, labels, and sorting. Mostly this leads to lots of stars and lots of things marked “important.” We are usually disappointed.

PPS: Take the plunge. Build yourself an effectiveness system. You’ll love the freedom of it.


Today’s photo credit: xJason.Rogersx via photopin cc


Inbox Blocks

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

They grab our attention and then they just hang around. Not important enough to do anything with right now and possibly important enough that we’d feel guilty just deleting them, these inbox blocks make it hard to get on top of our emails and leave us feeling perpetually behind.

Maybe it’s that notice of an upcoming seminar. Or an interesting article or video we don’t have time to read or watch just now. Or information about a current project that needs no action. Or maybe it’s a stack of these blog posts. 🙂 What do we do with those emails?

We can do one of three things depending on the content of the email:

  1. If it is something you might want to read or watch, create a task in your effectiveness system that looks something like this “Read the blog post “Inbox Blocks”; archived.” Put this task on your “back burner list” of things you might do one day. Archive the email to get it out of your inbox.
  2. If it is reference material for a project, make an entry in your project notes indicating the material is available in your email archives. Archive the email to get it out of your inbox.
  3. If it is something you want to consider in the future and is time sensitive (therefore, not appropriate for your back burner list), make a task with an alarm to remind you to look up this item in your email archive and review it again. Archive the email to get it out of your inbox.

These simple steps can seem like too much effort…until, that is, we clear those inbox blocks and feel on top of the world.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Giulia van Pelt via photopin cc

Emptying Your Email Inbox

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

How full is your inbox? Email messages will collect (and multiply, it seems!) there if you think that moving or deleting emails means you will forget to follow up. Without a trusted way to handle incoming emails, you will constantly battle a bulging inbox.

To keep your inbox clean,  get good at

  1. Deciding what each email means to you. Ask yourself what each email implies. Is there something to do or is this just FYI? If it is something to do, willyou do it now or later? If it is FYI, do you need to file it or trash it when you’re done? You can use the “one touch” rule here: strive to open, read, and decide the meaning of each email just once instead of letting it linger.
  2. Recording your tasks. If an email implies a task, capture that task in your system of lists.
  3. Moving or deleting inbox emails. Once you’ve decided what each email means, move it to an archive folder or delete it as appropriate.
  4. Reviewing your lists. Read through your lists of tasks at least daily so you can trust that your system will help you follow up on important things.

Apply this consistently and soon you will have tamed your inbox.


In your corner,


Don’t send that email (or txt)!

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1

They are easy. They are ubiquitous. And they are overused.

Emails and texts are so easy to send and are great for transactions. Use them for things like, “Where are you?” “I can meet at 2:30” and “The Q2 net disbursements were $1.2M”

They are NOT effective for communicating anything with significant emotion, either positive or negative. The words you write in an email or text make too narrow a pipe to adequately and accurately give your meaning to your recipients.

Missing from email and text are tone and body language.

Need to persuade someone? Need to address a contentious topic? Do you feel tense, angry, worried as you compose an email or text? Then don’t send an email or text.

Pick up the phone. Or visit in person.