Friday, July 13, 2012

Incomplete projects

I know I can't possibly be the only mom who struggles with completing projects. Sometimes I feel like a juggler that is juggling so many plates that I can't stop to actually complete anything, lest I stop and everything else falls.

I am working on solving this problem. Slowly and one step at a time. I decided to start with email. Most know how easily it can get out of hand. As a home school mom I am subscribed to email lists for the curriculum we use. I think facebook's default setting is to email you every time someone sneezes. then think of all the newsletters you sign up to receive and last but not least, advertisements from every online store you have ever set up an account. Before you know it you could easily receive 250-500 emails minimum per day.

I started cleaning up my email by playing the email game. I quickly went through my email, got through all the junk I knew I didn't needed, "boomeranged" things that could wait for a later date, replied to anything that would take less than two minutes. I got through THOUSANDS of emails using this process.

When I was in the corporate world (I left in 1997), I worked with the mindset of "Inbox Zero". Maybe that isn't what I called it then, but that is the lingo used today. Particularly in the Getting Things Done (GTD) world. Now keep in mind when I left my job to stay home with my kids, I didn't even have a computer at my actual desk. Everything I did was manual, yet even though I had to touch everything to process I still got my inbox down to zero. Every. Single. Day. It never dawned on me to do it any different. If my box  wasn't empty, then I didn't feel done with work. Of course, everything wasn't complete, but it had been processed and I knew what action needed to be taken next. So, what does that mean for my email?

It means my inbox is 100% empty when I go to bed at night. It means I process any email that comes in and take the appropriate action. I take one of the following 6 actions with anything that comes in my inbox:
1. Read and delete- love the delete button, it is so freeing
2. Reply if I can do so quickly (under 2 minutes) and add "waiting" tag and archive if necessary.
3. If it is a long read I add a "read" tag and archive(I am currently updating this process and forwarding all of my reads to Evernote.
4. If it requires further action I tag it with "todo" and archive. I go through these daily and complete items.
5. If I need to reply and I know it is going to be a long email or if I need to do some research before replying then I tag with "reply" and archive. I go through this daily as well.
 6. If the item received is purely for reference that I will either use for our home school or our home then I forward to Evernote and delete.

I can't tell you how freeing this is and I don't know why I didn't do this sooner. I hope some of these processes help you.

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