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3 Unconventional Tips for Dealing With Email Overload

Michael Schechter offers 3 strategies to help you overcome email overload

As we mentioned last week, we've been asking some of our favorite productivity experts their best advice for overcoming the biggest productivity frustrations. Today we hear from Michael Schechter...

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Michael Schechter's 3 Unconventional Tips

1. Find someone to steal from

In the case of email, which was where I started overcoming my own frustrations, I connected with Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero.

It helped me get my head around a major pain point and served as a gateway into things like David Allen's Getting Things Done (which was overwhelming for me at first), but also gave me a way to tackle email that worked well with my personality.

There are plenty of "solutions" out there. Find one that not only works, but works well for you.

2. Don't get myopic

A "perfect solution" for handling something like email that doesn't play well with other aspects of your workflow (i.e. task management, resource materials, scheduling), isn't perfect.

Don't allow yourself to get too focused in on a single aspect of your workflow. If you find a less frustrating way to manage your inbox that creates friction in how you manage your tasks, you're just shifting your frustration around, not eliminating it.

Focus on one problem at a time, but always keep the bigger picture in mind.

3. Better doesn't equal easy

Remember that a good solution to your problems still may not remove all of the frustration. Managing something like your inbox -- even when using a solid approach that works well in your overall workflow -- is difficult. Get better at managing it, but don't expect that any tool or workflow is ever going to make things easy. That said, it will make things easier.

Michael Schechter is a Brooklyn, NY-based, ADHD-addled Mac geek who spent much of his life struggling to get things done. In recent years, Michael has leveraged a combination of technology and workflow to take control of his life and actually get things done. You can read more of his work at A Better Mess, listen to his podcast Mikes on Mics or connect with him on Twitter or App.net.


Action: There are lots of different systems out there. Find something that works well for you. Keep the big picture in mind as you deal with the details to achieve the best success.

What system do you use? Where do you struggle most? We'd love to hear your ideas and questions.