Email Overload 2


Argh, where has the day gone? I’m only NOW sitting down to start writing and figured I’d better get my blogging for today out of the way first.

I think I’m going to have to change up the order I do things – normally I get up between 7 and 7:30, make myself a pot of tea and then sit down at the computer and clear out my email, then open up Word and start to write.

This time last year, that meant I was normally opening Word by a little after 8 a.m. I took a time management course way back when and the person who taught said, “Handle things once.” The premise behind it is if you get a letter in the mail, you read it and act on it immediately instead of sticking in a folder to be looked at later which means you have to handle twice or more. She recommended that you do whatever has to be done with it right then and get it out of the way. Which is what I’ve been trying to do with my email.

It worked fine last year. But it’s not working for me with the mail volume I’m getting now. It’s been taking me close to two hours to clear my email sometimes a lot longer.

I have multiple email accounts – one that only my family uses, one that’s for my RWA loops and writing friends, and one for my website. I love gmail – I have my gmail accounts all forwarding to one main account, but I don’t like their one-level label system. So I recently set up Outlook Express so I could download the emails from each account with the push of one button. I have set up filters that’ll place the new emails into their folders so I don’t have to sort it later. Although I don’t like that it has to be slotted into a single folder either – that’s where gmail’s ability to put multiple labels on an email works better. (Have I lost you completely? I’m not sure how to describe it, but OE let’s me have a folder, and then add subfolders within it that I can collapse and not have to look at if I chose not to. For instance, I can have a “course” folder, and then put my courses into subfolders within that folder and collapse the whole thing if I’m not on a course that month. Gmail however doesn’t let me have sub-labels so I have label my course emails “Course-Writing Emotions” or “Course-Skip, lies and Videotape”, so I have to scroll down a whole long list even if the course was taken years ago. However, one good thing gmail does that OE doesn’t is that I can put multiple labels on an email. So if a review of Personal Protection came in from Romance Junkies, on Gmail I can attach the labels “RJ”, and “Review” and “Personal Protection” and find that email in any of those folders. But on OE, I’d have to choose whether to put the email in the RJ folder, or in the Review Folder and create a subfolder called Personal Protection. Or in the Personal Protection folder and create a subfolder called Reviews. Which would mean my reviews are scattered all over the place. Then I have to remember WHERE I’ve stored it when I have to refer to it later. It’s very confusing.)

OE seems to be working. Somewhat. But that “handle it once” rule is taking too much of my morning which is when I’m most productive at writing. Especially if it involves digging around for bios or photos, even longer if I have to email someone a payment through paypal or write an essays. So I think the ‘Handle it once’ rule is going to have to be chucked. After doing some research as to how other people handle their email, I’m going to set up times when I check my email – and then set a limit as to how long I can spend on clearing it out. And I’m also going to set up “to do” boxes within my inboxes for things I have to do later when I have a moment. OY! I’m not sure about that one.

But something’s gotta give because it’s interfering with my writing time.


2 thoughts on “Email Overload

  • Amir Sachs

    Leah,
    Try using Outlook and not Outlook Express. Then you can make use of moveIT (www.bluelightit.com/MoveIT) which won't change the way you work (ie moving email to folders), but instead of figuring out which emails goes where (2-3 seconds of your time) and then actually dragging the email to the correct folder (can take up to 20 seconds per email) you will be able to press one button (called MoveIT) and the email will be filed automatically, always in the correct folder.

    Good luck and let me know if that helps.

  • Marley Delarose, Author

    Yep, remember when I had that bandwidth problem, mostly because of yahoo, I think, I changed over all my emails to google and set them up in the Mac version of outlook, Entourage. Now they all come in at once and go into their respective folders.

    What slows me down in the morning is the 5:00 coffee with CFM and giving big D his wakey wakey and taking him outside. I'd do well if I could just grab my coffee and go. Since I don't I go check emails and it's usually 10 or 11 before I get started. And lately CFM's been getting home LAAAATE so my evening's blown too.

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