My last post on email management generated some good backchannel discussion. My friend—and legal-tech consultant—Craig Bayer posted his methodology over here. Great information, for sure. And Ben Schorr, another tech consultant, posted his thoughts here. What's interesting about these various posts is that, while they differ slightly in approach, everyone's system focuses on getting things out the in-box.
Believe it or not, there are lawyers out there who keep every email they ever received in their in-box. This is not a good strategy, for lots of reasons.
So, back to our discussion. As I said, the first thing I do each morning (and periodically during the day) is to delete emails that I don't need to keep or act on. During this process I don't do anything other than delete. It makes me feel good, and it's easy to do.
Once I've deleted useless emails, I go back and flag emails that I plan to act on during the day. A flag means (to me) that responding will require some effort, or that I don't want to answer the email right away. I try to give thoughtful responses to my emails, and this is one way I increase the chances of doing that.
After I've flagged the emails I need to respond to later (or that need some other action), I turn to the emails that can be dealt with quickly. I work my way down the inbox, responding to those emails. Again, the fact that these all are dealt with quickly lets me build up momentum. If you want to be efficient it's best to learn how to “batch process,” which means to do similar tasks at the same time.
After I've responded to those emails, I file the emails that need filing. Then I scan the flagged emails to see if there are any in there that I'm now motivated to deal with. Usually, though, I take a break from email and turn to something else.
At the end of the day, I check my flagged emails to see if any are left. Sometimes I'm waiting on information to be able to respond so it's not unusual to have some flagged emails left over.
Anyone else have any tips they'd like to share about how they process their email?