Saturday, August 30, 2014

Using email to manage work queue can be deceptive

I loathe on emails that have been replied more than 5-6 times. I am sometimes copied on emails where there are 20 replies. Today I have an email about post commit reviews which has 20 replies, Grrr.  I procrastinated whole day to read it and looks like I am not goint to read it today.

Problem with 20+replies email is that by the time you end up reading all 20 of them you have lost context of what is the final picture.

I saw this infographic from 2012 http://mashable.com/2012/11/27/email-stats-infographic/  that 28% of time is spent on reading emails.  I think for me its may be 50% or more as I work from home and most communication is over emails except very few which happens  over skype or phone calls.


Would love to explore tools to save time.  I found 2 new tools in gmail so far, "Canned Response" and "Mark as Read" button, lets see if it helps.

For e.g. I would be copied on email "23.7.3 CL- 120157 on all Appnodes and EOS nodes in SJC, AVL and AM2", now I don’t want to delete it as I may need it in case there is an issue in prod. But I also want to move it out of my Unread queue as I am using email to manage my work queue. I am hoping now I don’t need to open email and mark it as read, a one click would do it.

Also thinking of adding more filters to just sweep some emails I care less to trash as other members are taking care of dealing with them.



But this got me into thinking should I use email to manage my work queue, I used to use a task list before but problem was that some items would never get done. Then I switched to gmail and all pending work would be in emails  marked as Unread, I would have read it but if any action is required I would mark it as Unread.  I am almost at a tipping point because it takes me almost from 9-4 to talk to my team and deplete the email queue. That leaves sometimes 1 hour or sometimes 2 hours to write any kind of code. Sometimes it feels like I got rid of all emails that came to me in the day but I got nothing productive done. So was I just pretending to work?

Also gmail is deceptive, when I come in morning it shows me I have 76 unread emails but daily there are many emails that have between 3-5 replies and some are suckers with 10+ replies. So really its almost 150+emails to deal with and this is after sending lot of emails to trash directly.

Need to find some other way to manage the work queue, I had  tried using JIRA but that also hasn’t fared well.


2 comments:

  1. I'm testing Todoist now. It has a nice integration with Gmail that allows you to create to-do items based on (and linking to) an email thread, optionally set dates/projects/labels etc, and archive then original email.

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    Replies
    1. My problem is not with task management, for that I can use Mailbox or notes or any other way, problem is sheer amounts of emails to read and reply that at the end of the day dont feel like I achieved anything. I am still a programmer at heart and needs something tangible to produce at end of the day.

      I am thinking of may be moving to no email days.

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