I was speaking to a couple of people during a break at DDD about the way their teams work, and one of the topics that came up was how we managed our email and tasks. I learned quite a few good tips from the stuff that was said so I thought I’d share the way I work with everyone.
Now ask anyone who knows me outside work and they’ll tell you I am notoriously dis-organised, mostly that’s due to my short attention span and my fantastic ability for procrastination.
Obviously those two things don’t go down to well with employers so I need a way of maintaining focus and staying on top of things and through a combination of Outlook, OneNote and my XDA Exec I can do this.
First off everything I do is split into two categories. ‘Development related’ and ‘Everything else’. If something I need to do is development related then I manage it using TFS and TeamLook from PersonifyDesign otherwise I use Outlook and OneNote to keep me organised.
I start every morning by making sure that my inbox is empty, which it should be anyway as I triage everything as it comes in following the ‘Four D’s for Decision Making’ model outlined in this excellent article on inbox management. The crux of it is:
Delete it if it’s not needed
Do it if it’ll take less than 2 minutes
Delegate it if possible or
Defer it until a later date
If as a result of ‘doing it’, ‘delegating it’ or ‘defering it’ I need to send an email then that email gets flagged (with a reminder for an appropriate period of time) so I can follow it up, if not then the original email gets flagged. This can also be achieved by dragging the item onto the ‘To-Do Bar’ (either the calendar or the tasks pane)
If I need to reply then I always click ‘reply all’ especially if the reply is pertinent to the entire team. Keeping the entire team involved means more potential input plus I can retrieve the entire conversation thread using ‘find all related messages’ or ‘Arrange by conversation’ at a later date. This makes finding information after the fact that much easier.