While thinking about email in general, and its weaknesses, I stumbled upon a way of looking at email that in our 3 years I’ve never been able to articulate – it’s entirely reactive, and thus horrible at trying to organise it around your own schedule.

Why is it reactive? Because you are always responding to events that happen to you – namely, an email arriving. In other areas of work this kind of behaviour would be called “fighting fires” – there’s always a new outburst of flame demanding attention.

No client or methodology is particularly well suited to saying “I’m going to ignore this email for a while, and then efficiently process it as a batch with similar emails (at a time that suits me)”.

I.e. No client is supporting proactive email processing.

I think we come quite close – we encourage emails to be actioned, deferred, and grouped together; but it’s missing one big thing… Goals.

Goals are what would truly enable us to be confident and proactive. To say, “these are my outcomes for today / this week”, then pull up the actioned emails associated with those goals, and process them.

These thoughts are helping refine our GTDInbox methodology for taking email productivity up a level. More as it comes!


This was written by Andy Mitchell