|An Emergency Room Analogy for Your Inbox
Thinking of your Inbox as the receiving area of a well-run emergency room can help you see how to get your e-mail under control.
In an emergency room receiving area, there is often a nurse or doctor who quickly triages patients as they arrive, sending them off to appropriate doctors or places in the hospital. For that to work correctly, that nurse or doctor needs to make quick decisions and keep the room generally cleared. If the waiting room is overflowing and out of control, chaos reigns and the consequences could be serious. Do you see the similarity with your Inbox?
Act Fast, or Schedule for Later
Continuing with the analogy, in the emergency room triage, seriously injured or ill patients are taken right into medical treatment. Similarly, with truly critical e-mails, it absolutely does make sense to act on them immediately,
However, in the emergency room, if you determine that a patient's condition is not currently critical—say it is a longer-term or less-urgent condition—you might put them in a separate waiting room for next tier work that day, or schedule them for a later visit. But you get them out of the waiting room to keep it manageable. Similarly, using MYN in your Inbox, you will convert e-mails with slower burn actions to MYN tasks for later action—either for later today (Critical Now tasks), or scheduled for the future. In all cases, you'll then immediately move the e-mails out of the Inbox.
File or Dismiss Quickly
In the emergency room receiving area, non-emergency business is also processed quickly and cleared. For example, when the postal service person arrives with informational mail, it is filed away promptly for later reading (otherwise it would gum up the emergency room paperwork). In the MYN system, informational e-mail is also filed almost immediately (all e-mail into one folder) to clear the Inbox. Reason: you need to keep the Inbox uncluttered for quick and clear decision making.
This next one is obvious. In the emergency room receiving area, if a sales person comes by trying to sell goods, you’d dismiss them immediately. You should do the same with sales and other junk e-mails—delete them immediately.
Use the Inbox as a Decision Area and Keep it Clear
I could go on and on. The key point here is that incoming events in the receiving area of the emergency room are processed and decided on promptly and moved on; they are not left in the receiving area. The same should be true of your Inbox. Business moves fast and so you want to make decisions on incoming mail quickly, act on or schedule tasks appropriately, file all mail away rapidly, and clear the deck (the Inbox) for the next wave of decisions.
The 1MTD and MYN systems have been designed to help you do all that—to help you use your Inbox as a powerful decision making zone, and then to help you clear it quickly so it stays effective. Using these systems can prevent critical emergencies from occurring on your watch.