I’m not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.
-Calvin of “Calvin and Hobbes”
Last week, we covered how celebrity tech-blogger Robert Scoble reads 622 RSS feeds each morning. In Part II, we answer the question:
How does he manage to read and organize tens of thousands of e-mail?
This exclusive 5-minute interview provides some great tips for avoiding e-mail overload, including:
The companies he recommends for e-mail systems
Definitions: are you a “piler” or a “filer”?
How to use reverse spam filtering to save time
The GTD rule he violates in favor of filing
Folder structure: how many does he use?
Why Robert doesn’t store all e-mail
Innovative use of a “Done” folder to prevent rereading
The interview cuts off at 5 minutes because my memory card reached capacity. What are a few of the things we discussed after the camera stopped rolling? See below the video for some great tips that weren’t caught on film.
What did you miss afterwards? Here are a few of the highlights:
1. Keep all Outlook .PST files under 2GB in size to optimize speed and prevent crashes:
Creating a new .PST file is not intuitive. Here’s the menu flow to get it done: Tools –> Options –> Mail Setup –> Data Files –> Add. Robert has three separate .PST files as folders in his left-hand Outlook view, which are essentially “Old”, “Middle/Someday”, and “Hot”. These are in addition to his “Inbox”, which he considers his “working set”.
2. Remove infrequently used .PST files:
Right-click and “close” infrequently used .PST folders and other folders. This does not delete them, thus Google Desktop can still be used to search for these messages. I suggest you double-check this before doing anything resembling deleting/removing.
3. Rename or append frequently-used folders to appear at the top of the list:
This one is from me. Robert has 20+ folders, as do millions of us. Once you identify the most frequently used folders, add “A-…”, “B-…”, “C-…”, etc. as prefixes (in descending order of frequency) on the folder names to reorder the folders alphabetically and bring the most useful to the top. Cut down on mouse travel time and eliminate wasted visual scanning.
4. Responding to fewer e-mail is the holy grail:
Robert told me that, based on his analytics over time, each e-mail he replies to produces between 1.5 and 2 additional e-mail in return. Sending e-mail multiplies the e-mail you receive. Replying to more people more often — the goal of most people — actually creates more work instead of cutting it down.
For more strategies, including template e-mails, that can be used to cut e-mail volume in half and cut frequency to once per day or once per week, see “The Low-Information Diet” and “Interrupting Interruption” in The 4-Hour Workweek.
Did you enjoy this topic and behind-the-scenes look? Please take a second to Digg it here and I’ll do more!
Posted on: May 21, 2007.
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Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.