I know, Microsoft Outlook is the number one productivity-enhancement tool in the world. I honestly don't understand how anybody got anything done before they had that stuff.
But that's not what this post is about. See, Outlook can also be a productivity destroyer. Here's how:
I'm a software development team lead. My job consists of doing a ton of little things, many of which require being concentrated (Well, some of them. Okay, few of them.).
In order for that to happen(me doing the things I need to do so I can go home and watch mind-numbing TV till I fall asleep) – I need to be in the "zone". You know.
Anyway, here's a scenario that happens a lot(the parts where I speak to myself are all exact quotes):
1. Right, got that major document to prepare for tomorrow, boy that one's important. Phew.
2. Well, in that case, better open that Microsoft Word over there.
3. Opening Microsoft Word.
4. Okay, how to begin, how to begin, how to begin. (Thinking for about 80 seconds) Got it! There was that mail item in the Inbox that has most of the stuff that I need to address in my big and important Document. Better check that email right-away. Man I'm good. Wish I could teach others to be me.
5. Alt-tabbing my way to Microsoft Outlook. Clicking the Inbox (ctrl-shift-I would've worked too, I know that, you smartasses. I like the *click*.).
6. Hey, I'll be damned, I got me 12 brand new shiny emails in me Inbox, mate (Irish accent kicks in for a moment there). What's this?
"FW: The following persons please come to the main office, your parking passes will be confiscated"
Oooh. Sounds interesting. Better read the whole thing.
7. Reading the whole totally useless, unrelated-to-me waste of virtual paper.
8. Boy, that was fun.
9. Wait a second, wasn't I up to something? Hmm. Beats me, guess not. Better go over that to-do list, see what should I do.
Now, do you see what just happened there? Me having to switch to Outlook for some reason, made me notice something unrelated in my Inbox, and forget all about my original intentions.
And it happens all the time! For example, step 4 could've included:
4. […] Gotta go to that Calendar of mine to see if I meet that dude next week so I can ask him that question about my important document. […]
Now, let's analyze:
The problem consists of:
1. Me having often-accessed data in my Microsoft Outlook,
2. The Inbox, that contains tons of attention-catching garbage, is right there on top of Microsoft Outlook.
So, possible solutions are:
[Possible Solution #1] Never access that bloody Outlook during regular work, only on specially designated Outlook-Breaks. Keep no needed data there.
[Why Possible Solution #1 is No Good]
Well, much data that I call "Reference" (meaning I don't have to *do* anything specific about it anymore, but I might need to look at it some time) really *belongs* in Outlook:
1. Stuff in the calendar.
2. Information that got to me in emails – I don't want to translate anything to files, that would be insane.
[Possible Solution #2]
1. Make the inbox less sticking out. Hide it someway so that I don't have to see it when I need to access stuff in a specific mail folder or in the Calendar.
2. Keep no "Reference" stuff inside the Inbox, move it all to other folders as soon as possible.
This one sounds alright. I think I'll give it a try tomorrow, tell you what happened.
What do you think?
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Get in touch: pasha at cohai dot co