Total Workday Control book Newsletter, August 2006

Hello. The topic of this monthís premiere newsletter is dear to the hearts of millions of people, including you I bet: getting control of out-of-control e-mail. Out-of-control e-mail lowers productivity and leads to personal frustration. But solutions are available. Read on for a discussion that I think you will find interesting.

And be sure to check out the topic at the bottom of this newsletter about a new free Outlook software add-in from partner ClearContext that, while optional to my Total Workday Control (TWC) system, has recently been customized to support my system well.

By the way, you are getting this newsletter because my records indicate you bought or received a copy of my book Total Workday Control using Microsoft Outlook or signed up for my newsletter on my website. I truly hope you have enjoyed that book. Because of individuals like you, it remains Amazonís #1 best-selling Outlook book. If however you think you received this newsletter in error, reply to me saying so and you will be removed from further mailings, no questions asked.

E-Mail Confirmation coming, please respond to keep getting my newsletters
One more thing before I get into the meat of this newsletter. Since this is the first of a series of monthly newsletters from me using a new bulk mailing service, my service will today also be sending each of you a confirmation e-mail asking if you want to keep getting these newsletters. Please respond if you do. If you do not see that confirmation e-mail in the next day or so, and you wish to stay on the list, let me know by replying to this message.

Also, consider placing my e-mail address ( in your Outlook Contacts list. That will prevent possible spam blocks from your own mail system in the future. Thanks for this bit of confirmation and spam-safe housekeeping; after this you will not need to do it again.

Michael Linenberger, August 5, 2006

How to Get E-Mail Under Control
Notes From a Fast Company Interview

In an interview done with me in the June issue of Fast Company, I discussed something that I think is key to understanding and solving the problem of out-of-control e-mail. Namely, it is not spam, and not unnecessary cc-ing of e-mail, that causes you to have trouble getting through and processing your workplace e-mail inbox. Rather, it is the e-mail that matters that slows you down. Itís the important e-mail that drags down your inbox.

In particular it is mail with actions or tasks you must make, which causes you to move slowly through e-mail. Reason: we donít know how to adequately handle such actions in our inbox and so we bog down on them. With spam and cc'd mail, even though irritating, we can move by such messages quickly. However seeing actions we need to do in e-mail stops us in our tracks. Why? We know if we do the action now, we will stop reading e-mail and never get through the inbox that day. However if we don't do it now and instead move on to the next e-mail, we know that the item will scroll off the bottom of the inbox by the end of the day, and weíll probably lose it. By doing either of those, we end up with an over-flowing inbox and a very bad attitude about e-mail. With most workers spending on average 3 to 4 hours a day on e-mail, this is a real problem.

The Solution
The solution is remarkably simple. Simply convert e-mails with embedded actions into tasks, and manage those tasks along with all the other tasks on your task list. Be sure to prioritize ruthlessly once the task is created. It is likely that many of the e-mail requests for action you get, once measured against everything else, really are not that important. And whether they are or not, you now have them in a place to properly work and track them.

Where should your task list be? The Outlook Inbox is a terrible place to manage tasks. Rather, get these action items into the Outlook Task system, where (with proper Outlook configuration, described in the book) you have all the tools you need to properly prioritize and manage them. Once you do this, the tension is removed from the Inbox. Mail there is now just informational, and you can feel free to file or archive it all away. For the first time in years, you will be able to empty your inbox daily and start fresh each morning smartly working your new e-mail as it arrives.

Next StepsÖ or Getting Going Again
If you havenít implemented the practices in your copy of the Total Workday Control book mentioned above, do so now. The bookís teachings are all designed with this key activity in-mind: convert e-mails to tasks, and manage tasks properly. Then file your mail out of the inbox. Eight best practices are presented that teach you how to do this. And the book shows you how to configure Outlook to incorporate those best practices. If you already have the book, and maybe even have read some of it, to get re-started, begin by reading chapters 3 through 6 and you will be ready to go.

New Software Partner: ClearContext Outlook Add-in Software
Optional, free software has been customized to support Total Workday Control

Something new since the release of the book is a partnering between me and a software company called ClearContext. ClearContext creates Outlook add-in software to give you better tools to manage your e-mail and tasks. Many of their current tools compliment the TWC system nicely. More importantly, ClearContext has just added six TWC views to a special TWC-enabled version of the software, built to my specifications. These views match the views in the book, and will save you time in configuring Outlook. And if you have already configured your system per the book, while this software is purely optional, youíll still find useful additional tools that match TWC well, and that will help you get your e-mail even more under control. Best of all this software is free. Consider downloading it and trying it out. I describe the benefits at this TWC-ClearContext page, which will lead you to instructions on how to download the special TWC-enabled version of the ClearContext software.

Workshops and Training on Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook

Don't forget, if you have a team or department that you'd like to get more productive, consider having a full day workshop at your company site for the entire group. There is no better way to jump start your team's productivity. All workshops are taught by me, the author. See my workshops page, or call 935-277-3448.

Thatís all for now. Good luck with all your endeavors, and please do this: commit today to getting your e-mail under control. Once you do, it will change your whole attitude about work.

Michael Linenberger

PS: Remember to forward this to a friend if you think they could benefit from it. You can use the Forward to a Friend link below for a form that gives your friend a discount on the book if they sign up for the free newsletter subscription. Or just use your e-mail Forward button to forward this newsletter only.

© Copyright 2006, Michael Linenberger and New Academy Publishers