Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zero Out Your Inbox

I did this quick training/challenge for our staff on Tuesday at our Communications Meeting and I thought I'd pass the notes on. Most of this comes from Karen Leland. This method and it's variations have been around for a long time, but it's a good one, so here's my spin:


  1. We need to get better at the time it takes to communicate with our people and each other. 
  2. Goal is to spend less time playing with email and more time doing stuff. 
  3. It’s a tangible accomplishment in an otherwise continual loop of unfinished ministry business. 

Four “D” Method (with some extra hints): 
  • Create 2 subfolders in your inbox called “Defer” and “To Be Done” (or whatever make sense to you). 
  • Every email you receive falls into one of four categories: Do, Delete, Delegate or Defer. 
  • Take action on each message, the ultimate goal being to touch each email only once whenever possible. 
  • The only way an email will ever get out of your life (and out of your worrying brain) is to either deal with it or get rid of it. If you’re planning to do anything in-between, you should understand why. 
  • Filters can be your friend. Focus on creating filters/scripts for any noisy, frequent, and non-urgent items. Depending on what you consider noise, this could probably include: 
    • blog comments 
    • “friend” requests and announcements from sites like Twitter, Facebook* or Flickr 
    • mailing lists and subscribed forum threads 
    • regular updates like newsletters and office memos 
    • non-spam store updates, coupons, and sale announcements 

Do: If the message can be handled easily and quickly (within five minutes) do it now. Once done, delete the item or move it to a folder for storage. If the task can't be completed easily, move it to a folder for items to be done, or flag it for completion at some point during the day. At the end of the day, all the flagged items, that are unfinished should be moved to the “to be done” folder, those becoming priority the next day.

Delete: If an email sits in your in-box waiting to be worked on for days, weeks, or even months, you’re probably putting it off for one of these reasons:
  1. It is too big to handle as is and needs to be broken down into bite size chunks (DO IT). 
  2. The item is not clearly defined enough for you to take action on (FACT FIND). 
  3. It is something you don't really, want, need or intend to do (DELETE IT).** 

Delegate: Just because you received the email message, does not mean you have to be the one to execute it.

Defer: Many items in your in-box are good ideas you would like to follow up on - just not now. Instead of letting the someday item sit in your active in-box file, create a folder where you can keep tabs on messages you may want to take action on at some point in the future.**

  * Be careful not to forget about notifications if people are trying to communicate with you.
** Just because you don’t think its important, that doesn’t mean the requester agrees. Communicate!

Five Minutes To A Cleaner Inbox: 
Open your email in-box and then set your watch, computer or iphone on a five-minute timer. Now, starting from the top (the latest email) go through and see how many items you can get completed and moved out of your mailbox using the four D's - Do, Delete, Delegate or Defer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Photography Happenings

I haven't posted any work in a while, so I thought I'd put a few shots up. The first is from an impromptu pre-engagement/engagement shoot with Jackie and Chad. Very fun couple. The second set is Chrissy, daughter of dear friends, who is graduating from High School.