Dealing with Email

A couple weeks ago, I was wondering how much email I received and dealt with in a day. So I counted, and here’s what I ended up with – two email accounts, one day:

Gmail account:

  • 75 emails received
  • 13 emails already in my inbox
  • What were they?
    • 7 twitter requests
    • 6 things I needed to know
    • 2 replies to something I had sent the day before
    • 7 things I had to do or respond to
    • the rest was junk I deleted (discussion list things, subscription spam, etc)

During the day, I sent out 14 emails from this account, and ended up with 1 email in my inbox.

Work email account:

  • 55 emails received
  • 12 things already in my inbox
  • What were they?
    • 9 things I needed to know
    • 2 interesting things
    • 12 helpdesk emails
    • 2 discussion list messages
    • the rest was junk I deleted

During the day, I sent out 7 emails from this account, and ended up with Zero Inbox!

Total email received = 130
Emails sent by me = 21
And I think this was a SLOW email day for me!

Of course, email wasn’t the only thing I did all day long. There were meetings. There were projects I’m working on. There was at least one call to a vendor. Etc.

The point is this – I do real work via email. I’m guessing you do too. Decisions get made, projects get additional thoughts. Things I need to see get seen. Questions get answered (or asked). It really IS my In Box.

How about you? Is email an irritation you have to deal with so you can DO your “real work” … or do you see email (and the thoughts behind those emails) as part of your “real work?”

The Actionable Blog

I’m reading Mobilizing Generation 2.0: A Practical Guide to Using Wb 2.0 Technologies to Recruit, Organize, and Engage Youth, by Ben Rigby. Page 20 talks about Amnesty International starting a blog, and says this:

“One of Amnesty’s key objectives is to encourage offline action, which the blog achieves. On the day [the author] visited [the website], a recent post in the “Student Activism” area called for students to spend some of their summer vacation sending postcards … Amnesty’s blog both asks for participation and shows results from past involvement, a method of engagement often called “closing the feedback loop.” The loop begins when a supporter takes action and closes when the organization shows the results of that action.”

That quote, along with my continued thinking and working on implementing the GTD method of personal organization and management, made me wonder what an “actionable” blog would look like in our libraries. Yes, I think it’s a spin-off of my earlier idea of inviting participation, so I’m either still stuck in that mode or I’m still developing the idea… you decide.

Back to my actionable blog idea – I think an actionable blog would not simply announce upcoming events or new purchases at the library. It wouldn’t even simply invite readers to come to the event or check out the book.

Instead, the content of an actionable blog post would require an action. It would be active rather than passive. Our public library’s summer reading program is an example of that. We give kids a sheet to work on – they have to read so many books. It’s an actionable thing for them to do (read the books, fill out the sheet). If they do, they get a prize.

Can’t our blog posts be a little more like that, too? How would that look in a library setting? I think we would ask for an action to be done. Just like in email, when you really need soemthing to be done, you might say this in the subject heading of the email – response required…  then you might follow up in a week or so.

I guess one example would be to ask a question. We’re doing that in our posts titled “What’s in Your Top 5?” We name our top 5 movies, music, etc… and then ask our readers what are their top five? That’s actionable, because it’s asking for a response.

Can we do this in the social networking services we’re starting to use? I think so. Try it out, see what happens. Ask for some participation of your customers, and you just might be surprised.

Tips for Effective Blog Reading

The Nev n Dave blog has some great tips for blog reading. Ten, actually. Tips I think are useful include:

#5 – limit how many feeds you subscribe to on a particular topic. [me] – good suggestion. Do you really need to read 100 blogs on the same topic? Probably not. Another similar idea – why not subscribe to a technorati search on a topic,r ather than individual blogs? That way, you’ll catch good stuff without cluttering up your feed reader.

#6 – periodically test your feeds. Leave a feed unread for a week. Then spend some time doing a catchup and ask yourself “was that really worth my time?” [me] – another great idea! This sounds like a handy way to see if the content on a particular blog is still relevant to your needs/interests.

A similar idea is…

#8 – Add a ‘quarantine’ category for new blogs [me] – that way, you’re not dropping the feed into a category and then forgetting about it. It allows you to try it out and see if the content works for you.

So – if you’re feeling bogged down by blogs, go read the full article and try some of these handy tips.

Nice Productivity Reminder

Michael Hyatt just hit a nerve for me – I’ve been thinking about this kind of stuff for awhile now, what with attempting to use the GTD system, career stuff, etc. Hopefully someone else will also find it useful!

He discusses a recommendation he’d make to an aspiring young person on how to “get to the top” (ok, I’m not terribly young… but still). His response? “responsiveness.”

He goes on to talk about playing tag as a child, and compares winning tag (making someone else “it” quickly) to a winning career strategy: “Just like the game, if you stay “it” too long, you lose. The only winning strategy is to respond quickly and make someone else “it.”

He then says “you are building your reputation – your brand – one response at a time.”

Lots more there – good stuff.

I’m Getting Things Done

Empty InboxJust bragging a little… here’s proof I currently have an EMPTY INBOX! I have recently read Getting Things Done by David Allen.

I’m apparently not the only librarian reading through this book. I actually don’t remember where I heard about it – some blog, most likely. David Allen, the author of the book, has a website and blog, too.

OK. I’ll see if this organizational method works for me. The interesting/neat thing I found with this method? It’s geared more towards knowledge workers (translation – librarians), it’s geared to handle “what do I do next” questions (called “next actions” in the book – a little too corporate-sounding to me, but oh well), and it helps blend all your “stuff to do” – work, home, hobbies, somedays, etc – just what I was looking for. For me, all that stuff is mixed into one big “what do I do” heap in my brain, and individual “stuff” doesn’t neccessarily make itself know at the most appropriate of times. Otherwise, I end up being efficient at work OR home, but not both.

So – just an FYI to others looking to organize a little better.