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I’ve been thinking about my personal productivity lately. There are three things that are making me worried.

  1. I’m moving into a new position at work that will be more time demanding and (presumably) have more meetings.
  2. I’m not getting enough domestic stuff done, although this is a long standing problem.
  3. Recently, I passed some magical email threshold where I’m suddenly not sure that I’m responding to all of the mail that I need to.

Now, for the vast majority of my life, I’ve been able to keep track of things to do and meetings to go to in my head. So, for the vast majority of my life I haven’t used a calendar or “to do” list. It was actually more work to maintain them than it was worth.

For the past several months, however, I have been using a calendar (although my solution isn’t ideal), and I’ve needed it. I still don’t use a “to do” list. So begins my baby steps into a more mature productivity system. So, my first step is to change my email workflow.

Before, my inbox was automatically trimmed to the last thirty days of read mail. Older, read mail, was automatically moved to a year-based archive subfolder. This is nice in that the inbox doesn’t get so huge that it gets slow, but basically useless for determining if something needed to be done or not.

The new workflow is this: the inbox is NOT automatically archived anymore. Now, once an email is handled, it gets moved to the archive folder. So, now the goal is to empty the inbox, and the inbox is somewhat reminiscent of a “to do” list. Hm. Perhaps in the future, the inbox won’t be the only place for email that needs action, but for now, it seems sufficient.

Written on Apr 27, 2006.

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