Monday, November 21, 2011

Mail Drop (A Work-Related Post)

Full disclosure, more for the 3-letter agencies that might be looking into me:  I wasn't thinking too clearly when I did my first search on Google Images and the types of images made me realize that this was not quite what I had in mind.  I don't plan on writing manifestos in a cabin in the woods while wearing a hoodie.  And I certainly don't want to be parodied by Will Ferrell.


So I've talked from time-to-time about how my job involves a lot of email.  Not only do I have a team that sends out marketing/fundraising email, but it's also the primary communication method for both of my roles.  So I get a lot.  An average day is probably 150-200.  That's a slight reduction from the past, but it's still quite a bit.

I've talked before about my methods of organization, but I'm not sure if I've mentioned this technique before or not.  Most, but not all of my work is accomplished when I have an empty inbox.  However, I rarely have an empty inbox.  Usually that only lasts for a few minutes, right before I go on vacation.

But at certain times of the year, when it's slow, I can get it down to a very small number.  Usually what remains is those "unknowns" - please check out this website, please review this powerpoint, here's an attachment for a strategy document - all the low-priority stuff that I'm not sure how much time or brain-power I'll need to invest before I can delete.  Sometimes this stuff can hang out for 6+ months before I get to it.  (I can tell it's not important because no subsequent conversation ever comes up with the same subject line, there's no call to action in the email, things like that.  Plenty of clues.)

The worst part, though, is that really productive day of email slamming results in people responding.
I developed a trick awhile back that has really helped me cope with that.  As I'm processing email, I'm composing my replies, but if the response isn't urgent, I'm not sending.  Instead, I'm saving as a draft.

Then, at the end of the day (or the end of the evening), I go back into my draft folder and send each message.  I do not know what that's like for some of my colleagues who get a lot of the email from me, but it's not like it's any more email, it's just all at once.

With the exception of overachievers, sending at the end of the day means that I won't start receiving responses until the next day.

The graphic on this post is part of a tablecloth design someone made for their child's aviation-themed birthday party.   Pretty cool.
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