A friend and user experience expert inadvertently lost an entire day's work. It had to be redone from scratch. I asked how the second result compared with the first. He conveyed that the second try was much better, a big improvement.
Is altering a goal or halting work towards it a failure? A myriad of oft-repeated adages would lead us to believe that anything varying from the predefined result is a breach of accountability ("Do what you say you're going to do.") or abject failure.
Mastering your inbox is easier than you expect. With an effective system in place:
Emails are automatically sorted so that they receive attention at the appropriate time.
Unnecessary clutter is pushed aside or eliminated.
The ease with which you handle email messages immediately improves and becomes even more efficient over time.
Of course, it's essential that the system be easy to setup and maintain.
Begin by considering two dimensions for the messages you receive: urgency and importance. As a way of assessing the urgency dimension, consider whether the item is actionable or just for reference. Actionable items are often, but not always urgent. Reference items can be important, but are rarely urgent.
The diagram below shows the two dimensions and suggests how you'd ideally time the action required for messages falling into each of the resulting quadrants.
Everyone's requirements are different, so I'll stop short of recommending a particular email client. However, one thing is clear. While many free and web-based email clients work well for personal use, most are sub-par for professionals seeking to maximize productivity.
While my suggestions are based upon the use of Microsoft Outlook 2007 or 2010, the concepts will mostly apply to other professional email clients as well.
Email Client Requirements:
Be able to process multiple email addresses or accounts in a single place.
Allows you too apply rules to incoming and outgoing email
The word "plan" connotes a degree of certainty. It's expected that problems can be marginalized via a thoughtfully constructed timeline consisting of activities and contingencies.
But good intentions, in the form of delivering a "great plan", often undermine a plan's integrity or unnecessarily delay a project.
Wanting to eliminate the unexpected, investors and stakeholders often demand that managers "get it right". They insist on knowing the precise details of how a project will play out.
Unfortunately, their "need to know" doesn't alter reality. Uncertainty is part of life and always a part of projects. Efforts to mitigate it are essential and a key goal of planning. However, attempts to banish uncertainty completely, by sweeping it under the rug, just setup a vengeful return at an inconvenient later date.