This is the fourth post in my mini series about email productivity. For those of you who missed the first three I have provided links to them below.
After the last installment of this series, I had changed my email collection timer from the default 5 minutes to one hour. I had seen quite an increase in productivity as I was working on emails in batch rather than what seemed to be every five minutes.
I decided that the next step was to check my email four times during the working day. These times were to be at 0900, 1200, 1500, and 1700.
There is no automated way to do this within Mail.app, the default mail client on the Mac and the one that I use so I had to turn off the automatic mail collection setting and set this to manual. So, from now, I received email when I manually clicked on the Get Mail button within Mail.app.
For the first few days this was going great. I informed the people directly involved with me that I was only checking email at these times and if something was urgent, then they needed to tell me in another way.
It generally worked out very well. Just like with the one hour gaps, the time between email on a three hour gap soon came around and I was amazed at how fast time was going in between email. It was nice and actually felt quite liberating to be free of the feeling that you have to check email.
All this was very well and good until I stumbled across a little item that resulted in me working very closely with the BBC and other journalists for just over a week on what became quite a well covered news story, even making the front page of Digg!
Because of this, I found most of my good work go straight out of the window as I had to check my mail frequently as I had to answer time sensitive questions. So, I found myself checking mail very frequently to ensure that I had not missed anything from any of the people I was working on the story with.
This has identified to me that strict email systems like these have to give sometimes, unless that is I can find a way around this. Some way of being able to filter the mail before I get it to my mailbox so that if I am working on something like this in the future I will be able to selectively receive mail. I could use a second address but that is not really an elegant solution so off I go looking for a way to achieve this.
Just out of interest, the story I did was posted here on the BBC website and was covered on many other technology and security news sites. The hits to our company website at RandomStorm sure did increase as you can imagine!
The report went live on Monday and it has been a very busy week. I am back to checking email once an hour and aim to go back to the four times in a working day from next Monday.
This has been a great lesson to me about flexibility in systems and the fact that sometimes the system has to give. It was in my interests for it to give as it was a priority for me to ensure I gave a speedy response to questions asked.
I am looking forward now to improving this.