Because as ministry leaders we have to face the daily onslaught of information, it is important to remember and apply several key best practices in handling all that information and communication. Here are a couple of thoughts....
First. Try to have all your inboxes flow into to the same place. It is too difficult to keep on top of and always be checking multiple inboxes. Now although I don't always like the idea of having even more email come into my inbox every day, I like the idea, even worse, of having to be on top of multiple inboxes increasing the risk of missing important communication. Therefore, it is nevertheless a good idea to have all your inboxes forward and flow their communication into a single email inbox that you'll be dedicated to checking consistently.
Second. Because you are going to be getting more email, you need to have in place a strict rule and practice to only handle each email once! This is key. You must process and deal with your email instead of letting it loiter and hang around in your inbox. The purpose of your inbox is to be a place to process and deal with email. Email must be acted upon. Here are 6 possible key ACTIONS that each email will fall into.
- Deter. If the email is unimportant but it keeps finding its way into your inbox, unsubscribe, mark it as spam, or add it to a block list.
- Discard. If the email is unimportant and needs no action, go ahead and delete it, just get it out of your inbox. Since most email clients have almost limitless email storage and fantastic search capabilities, it is unlikely you need to discard, but rather the next option will suffice.
- Drawer. If it’s important information but needs no action, archive it or file it.
- Delegate. If it’s important but the email requires the action to be done by someone else, forward it to them. Yet it is important to put the email, delegated task, and open loop in a place that you are able to track and follow up on. I recommend the Active Inbox plug-in for Gmail which does this really well.
- Do. If it’s important and you can do it in a few minutes, just act on it. Get it done and out of your inbox.
- Date. If it’s important but you can’t do it now, add it to your calendar. Always add important things to your calendar, not just to a unspecific to-do list.
As you use these 6 D's for processing your inbox, it should help you get out from under the information crush that we all find ourselves fighting against every day.