Archive

Posts Tagged ‘inbox processing’

How to use email filters to optimize your inbox processing

Apr 26, 2012 Leave a comment

If you are receiving about 30 to 50 or more emails per day, my email filter strategy might help you to optimize your inbox processing by prioritizing incoming email based on filters.

The underlying methodology of this strategy is the assumption that the information of the sender and the recipient of an email can be used to prioritize emails for processing: Read more…

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How to organize emails

Mar 1, 2012 1 comment

About two months ago I had to restructure my company inbox due to a software change to Microsoft Outlook 2010. I used this opportunity to think about how I organize my emails and today I would like to share my findings with you. Read more…

Using the early hours

Nov 8, 2011 Leave a comment

A few days ago, the headline “My secrets to productivity” within wordpress “Freshly pressed” caught my attention and I took the time to read Jolie O’Dell’s post about her productivity secrets.

I was really surprised about the similarities to my habits. Even if I try to get up at 5:00 am, compared to her late 6:30 am ;-), I try to make use of the early hours without interruptions by colleagues, incoming calls, or emails. Her advice is to “Wake up half an hour before anyone else” and I can definitely confirm this message. But most interestingly, she mentioned that this head start makes it possible to process emails without receiving answers right away. While reading her post, I realized that I am already using this “feature” without thinking about it for years. 🙂 Processing emails before others get up really reduces interruptions by incoming answers to your emails.

In addition, after cleaning the inbox in the early morning and after checking the tasks of the day, I have the time AND – most important – the calmness to work on my most important tasks even before other colleagues start working.

Jolie also talked about the downside of getting up early: Early to bed. For sure, this is not easy, but you can get used to it and if you want to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, you simply have to sleep earlier. Usually, I try to go to bed around 10 pm to get at least six hours of sleep. Yes, to be honest, it is really hard to wake up at 5 am. :-/ To make this easier, I started experimenting with sleep cycle software on my cell phone, but this could be another topic to write about. 😉

Thank you Jolie for sharing your secrets to productivity. Your post made me aware of the power of using the early hours. …and now, it is time to go to bed. 😉

Professional Performance Standards – Request for Comment

Jun 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspired by existing standards like EN ISO or OHSAS etc. and my previous suggestion for professional performance standards I decided to develop a request for comment for a professional performance standard applicable to all persons.

This is the first draft of my proposal for this standard and I am looking forward to receive your feedback! 🙂

Professional Performance Standards – Request for Comment

1. Introduction
The application of a self-management system is a strategic decision of a person to enhance personal performance and to improve cooperation in a business environment.

This standard is designed to prove reliability and honesty of the person.

The defined requirements are generic and shall be applicable to all persons.

2. Personal Commitment
The person shall state to comply with the requirements of this standard.

3. Basic Requirements

3.1. Task Management
The person shall establish and maintain a reliable task management system to register all tasks. These tasks shall be prioritized and scheduled to ensure completion.

3.2. Mail Management

3.2.1. Incoming Mail
The person shall process incoming mail within 24 business hours.

Processing shall be done by “first touch” without returning the incoming mail to inbox.

Processing of incoming mail is defined as:
a) delete mail, if information is not relevant and answering not requested
b) forward mail
c) answer mail
d) transform mail into a task
In case of b) and d) sender shall be informed about processing decision.

3.2.2. Outgoing Mail
The person shall write outgoing mail as short and precise as possible.

The person shall address outgoing mail to relevant addressees only.

3.3. Time Management
The person shall establish and maintain a system to manage available time.

3.4. Office/Desk Management
The person shall ensure privacy of all processed information.

The person shall minimize usage of paper.

3.5. Document Management
The person shall archive documents and records to ensure traceability of the work performed.

3.6. Password Management
The person shall ensure the use of strong passwords.

The person shall protect passwords and keep passwords a personal secret.

3.7. Feedback Management
The person shall evaluate received feedback regarding performance and shall develop measures to improve.

Suggestion for Professional Performance Standards

May 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week, I had a discussion with two colleagues about the cooperation difficulties with other colleagues that do not perform in accordance with minimum standards of professional behavior. I often experience that some colleagues – always the same – need weeks to answer mails or simply are not able to complete tasks. Often their desks are completely overwhelmed by printouts and notes and the office looks chaotic. – Do you know this type of colleagues? 😉

I believe, that beside personal traits everybody is able to work in accordance with minimum professional performance standards. To support this theory, I created a “one pager” with five suggestions for professional performance:

Professional Performance Standards – Englisch Version (PDF, 21.5 KB)
Professional Performance Standards – German Version (PDF, 18.0 KB)

In the future, I will use this one pager to give my colleagues an idea about my expectations concerning professional performance and I hope, this will improve the cooperation step by step.

What do you think about these minimum standards? Do you have ideas for additional suggestions?

Quickstart after vacation: Overview in less than 60 minutes

Apr 6, 2011 Leave a comment

This week, my wife and I took two days off and we went for an extended weekend trip to a beautiful recreation area. But for today, I expected to get lost in a load of emails that flooded my company inbox during the last two days. Thus, I decided to quick start this morning by “speed processing” my inbox to get an overview as fast as possible. – This is how I achieved it:

1. I got up early to be one of the first people in the company to minimize interruptions by colleagues.

2. By screening my inbox for outdated and deletable emails, I could easily delete all newsflashes that came in during the days and I quickly checked for updated appointments or requests that were already answered by colleagues. This reduced my inbox by nearly 30 percent.

3. Finally: Strict application of my inbox processing methodology (delete, delegate, do within 2 minutes, schedule) to get to zero email in my inbox.

To be honest, I was a little bit surprised that I was really able to process all new emails (approx. 60) within less than 55 minutes. But I did! 🙂

What is your experience? How do you process your emails after a vacation? Please post or email your experience! Many thanks in advance!

Organize your desk – Lean and clean!

Feb 26, 2011 1 comment

Inspired by a colleague who loves to clean up everything, I started to lean and clean my desk as well. Today, I have only my computer (flat screen, notebook, mouse (without mouse pad!), and keyboard), a telephone, a memo cube, and a cup with a ballpoint, a highlighter, and a pencil on my desk. No paper, no other stuff. Also the walls are empty, only one calendar, a clock, and a framed A0 printout of our mission statement.

This lean and clean surrounding helps me to focus onto my work and I feel much more organized and structured. Less distraction, less mess. 🙂

To achieve this, I started with putting all the papers and documents onto a big pile and worked through it according to my inbox processing and archiving behavior. I tried to throw away as much stuff as possible. To make this a little bit easier, I store sorted out papers temporarily in a box which I empty from time to time by first-in-first-out principle. This offers the possibility to buffer my trash a little bit and to have the chance to retrieve thrown away papers for some weeks or months. 😉

After sorting all my papers and after throwing away unnecessary stuff like additional cups, notepads, decoration, and other gadgets, I took a cloth and wiped the table. Perfect!

Since that, I try to keep my desk as clean as possible. I process all incoming documents and meeting notes according to my inbox processing and I archive (and throw away) everything right away. In addition, I try to work online to use as little paper as possible. For all working documents, that I can not avoid, I maintain a folder that I can put into the drawer easily in the evening. – And my desk is lean and clean. 🙂

And does it work? Definitely! Feedbacks from colleagues and customers confirm it and my achievements visualize it as well. I am more successful and more productive than ever before. – And I absolutely enjoy it! 🙂