Sunday, February 18, 2018

Two Tools for Speed and Fun with Email

As announced in my last post of last year, in 2018 I will continue to post on Mondays, with the first and third Mondays of the month devoted to posts related to my own work and/or work-in-progress. 

How I wish I could be posting about a new podcast or excerpt from my book-in-progress, but this finds me still mired in the mudslide of tasks post-household move #2.

The first move was late last summer, and a second one last fall, the furniture and Texas Bibliothek arriving on the other side of the ocean only last month... (It was actually substantially more than two moves but I won't bore you with the details.)

One of the tasks in the mudslide is catching up on email.

Those of you who have been following this blog well know that email management is a subject I have been tangling with, and fascinated by, for an age-- well, since 1996, when I first got an email account, as a matter of fact. Back in 2016-- before the moves-- I had made such substantial progress with my email process that I posted this blog's all-time most popular post:

I still stand by my 10-point protocol; however, I now consider that post as less a celebration than a handy reminder to myself to take my own advice as life's Black Swan-esque episodes may demand. 

Over the past months, further refinements with my email process, such as using a Zassenhaus timer helped, as did insights from further noodling... But moving house being the utter chaos that moving  house is, the email backlog accumulated up to, understandably, one heckuva Himalaya.

Now it's already more a Sierra Madre; daunting, yes, but with relatively more sky. But of course I'm aiming for a wide sky over low rolling hills... And it's getting rather tiresome to be starting almost every single email with an apology for the delay.

Over the past few weeks two new things have helped me make faster progress and at the same time have some fun. Herewith:

#1. I now use the Mr. Stopwatch app for batching email. 

This not just another stopwatch app; I can click on the option to have each elapsed minute loudly announced by, I presume, the app designer, which is so perfectly annoyingly perfect.

What do I mean, perfectly annoyingly perfect? One of the problems I've had is, ironically, spending too much time on email and so ending up dithering around in a Ludic loop. I find I can work down more of my email backlog when I process it in batches of say, 20 minutes-- and the trick is to actually stop after 20 minutes. With the audio on-the-minute option, Mr. Stopwatch is so annoying -- which is perfect for me!-- that I usually yearn to stop after 10 - 15 minutes, which is even better.

For email, Mr. Stopwatch beats the Zassenhaus. Anyway, I forgot to pack my Zassenhaus.

Screenshot from my new favorite app, Mr. Stopwatch

My writing assistant with a small selection of postcards
soon to be mailed.
#2. Whenever apt, and if I feel so moved, I send a postcard instead.

Inspired by Karen Benke's Write Back Soon! I have begun keeping a batch of postcards handy near my laptop.

I myself am charmed to receive postcards (I mean personal, not junk mail, of course), so I would assume that some of my correspondents might feel the same way-- and so, with a postcard I can say hello to friends and family without adding another email to their personal Himalayas or Alps, or speedbumpitos, or what have you.

P.S. Nope, no Whatsapp, no FB, and I have largely abandoned Twitter. And I just might start typing my postcard messages on a typewriter! But I have to get another typewriter. For reasons too ridiculous to elaborate on here, I had to leave my beautiful 1961 Hermes 3000 on the other side of the ocean.

All this said, I sincerely do appreciate email.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.