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An Empty Inbox - You Can Do It!

Posted by EddiePrentice on April 13, 2015

I was chatting to my partner at Globocol, John Munro, about IBM Verse last week. We have been using the beta version exclusively for the past two months and we agreed there is no way we could possibly revert back to standard email. John posted a short blog in our IBM Connections client community about this last week so I thought I would share it with you here.

An empty inbox! How good is that?  

I am working with IBM Verse, IBM's new mail client, and I have managed to quickly and easily deal with all the items in my inbox using some basic productivity principles facilitated by Verse's functionality.  The principles I try and follow are to deal with all incoming email in one of four ways

  • Delete it
  • Immediately action it
  • Mark for action later
  • Request help

What to Delete? Deleting email which is spam is obvious. I also delete emails where I have been cc'd (the "I'm covering my backside type emails"); unless the subject line demands attention (e.g. "Employees receiving a bonus") I tend not to even open the cc - but simply delete it.  If my comment or feedback on the email is really important then I am sure the sender will contact me again but life is too short to spend reading cc's.

I take Immediate Action where an email requires an urgent or a simple response - I try to action these straight away ; read once, action, and move to "Completed" or "Archived" or "Done" folder.

Mark for Action Later: some emails of course require a bit of thought, a bit of research, a bit of consultation with colleagues.  With these I simply "Mark as Needs Action" by clicking on the appropriate icon in IBM Verse.  This flags them as needing action and I can then move them out of my inbox, knowing that I can bring it back for action at any time by opening the "Needs Action" feed.

The last way I deal with emails is by forwarding them onto a colleague or replying to the sender requesting more information - could be clarification or their opinion or information which I know they have. I mark the reply/forward email with the "Mark as Waiting For" icon, and I can then move the email out of my inbox, knowing that I can bring it back for action when I have the information I have requested, by clicking on the "Waiting for" feed. 


Image: My empty inbox. Ever seen one before?

Of course, I haven't really got an empty mailbox - in my "Needs Action" folder I have about 20 emails which I will need to process and action next week, and I have about a dozen where I am waiting for information/feedback from other people.  You can see in the Needs Action icon that I have one of these 20 emails which requires action urgently (i.e. today) so having finished this short blog entry I am off to action it.  

IBM Verse provides me with the tools to manage this "needs action", "waiting for" categorisation very easily. When I mark something as needing action the associated icon turns red when it is due today or becomes overdue.   

Having IBM Verse in itself is no guarantee of a better way of working but combining it with some simple rules can have a dramatic productivity gain.  Having an empty mailbox when 5:00pm rolls around does feel very satisfying.

For more information on IBM Verse contact Globocol