I’ve written about this quite a bit lately, but it’s one of the main ways I am trying to work better at the moment. I stumbled across the 43 folders website in my search for a solution to maintaining Inbox Zero but I didn’t watch the videos or read the articles; seeing Inbox Zero guides on that site reminded me of a very simple productivity system I had used in Trello previously and that I could quite possibly use now.
1.Today, 2.Tomorrow, 3.This Week, 4.This Month
These are my four main folders for sorting emails that I need to take action on. These folders include emails that I just need to read thoroughly, as well as those in which I need to take some action that I can’t complete in less than two minutes. I’ve numbered to keep them in that order and keep them high up in my view as punctuation and numbers are sorted ahead of letters.
Emails in the 1.Today box don’t stay there when I’m working on them, I have another group of folders for when I’m dealing with an email that will take longer than a few minutes.
..In Progress, ..Watching, .Complete, .Read Later
My next group of folders sits above my main four due to the punctuation. When I start working on an email, I move it into my ..In Progress folder and when I’m waiting for something to happen with an email from someone else, I place it into ..Watching.
.Complete is just a nice easy folder to see everything I’ve done (in case I need to resend it to someone else who is overloaded with emails, it happens (hey that’s me!)). And .Read Later is self evident, I jsut drop in emails I do want to read but haven’t decided when to. Those emails should probably go into my 3.This Week or 4.This Month folders though, hmmm.
Notifications, z_General_Office, z_General_Other
The very least important folders as I don’t need to action anything in these at all. I’m keeping notifications for now rather than deleting them because they are coming from new tools/systems that I am not yet used to using and many of them contain helpful links I can follow if I need to. Once I’ve gotten used to how they work, I’ll probably just delete their notifications.
The z_General folders are mainly to cover my back when there are office announcements happening via email. We do have a group chat application for that sort of thing, but it hasn’t really taken off just yet. Some people are using it quite well, and the history is scrollable, so maybe I just need to nudge the email announcers over to it, maybe I need to find the influencers in the office and get them on board for that to take off?
Those are my email folders for organising my emails for now. Simple yes, but a bit more developed than it was before and certainly more actionable. Moving emails around from 1.Today to ..In Progress and then ..Watching before .Complete may seem like unnecessary amount of filing, but at least I’ll be able to keep an eye on what I’m doing and that should help me build trust in my emails (where I haven’t had much faith in it before!).
I’d be interested to know what email organising systems other people are using, has anyone watched and followed the 43 Folders Inbox Zero series? Let me know!