When I was in college, I had a professor who demanded all computer programs be written modularly, broken into logical functions and procedures that were short enough to be viewed on one screen without scrolling. We would get a one letter grade deduction for each procedure in the program that did not fit on one screen. (at that time, one screen was 25 lines) His reasoning was that troubleshooting a unit of code was vastly more difficult when the entire piece could not be viewed at one time.
This same best practice applies to most everything you view on the computer including websites and INBOXES. That’s right. The moment you have to scroll your inbox to view all the messages, you have reached the point of functional breakdown. Once you have to scroll the inbox, those messages not on the screen are less likely to be looked at ever again and it is very unlikely it will ever get back to not scrolling without radical action. Why? Because it literally becomes endless. That is, you can’t see the ends. Other than the size of the slider in relation to the bar, there is no way to tell how many messages are in the inbox. And as the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. It is vastly easier to keep an inbox to less than one screen full than it is to reduce an inbox to one screen once the scroll bar appears.
Some people would have you believe the Inbox Maintenance feature is the greatest thing to come along for maintaining your inbox. WRONG. All it does is hides the problem and makes it even harder to fix later. Once you remove the messages from the inbox without adding them to another folder, they become lost in the morass of the All Documents view, forever inseparable from the messages that have been properly filed except through creative coding of an agent. Sure, that will temporarily improve server performance, but it does not go far enough to address the real problem: degraded human performance. The server will tolerate an inbox with several hundred messages. But humans performance degrades as soon as they don’t all fit on one screen. (This is the one advantage of using the preview pane on the side rather than the bottom.)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Step 1: Empty your inbox.
- Create a folder called “Inbox 2010″
- Open your inbox and select all messages. All of them. On a PC type Ctrl-A to select all.
- Drag them to the new folder you just created. You now have an empty inbox. You can always go back and deal with those messages you moved when you have extra time. But we both know that won’t happen.
Step 2: Keep the inbox empty for as long as you can.
- Make it your goal to eliminate all new messages promptly. Whenever possible, process each one only once. Read it, act on it and delete or file it. Much like a video game, your goal is to “kill” the emails. You lose as soon as your inbox gets large enough to scroll.
Step 3: Game Over: Start again.
- When you get the scroll bar for the inbox, repeat step 1 again.
You can simplify the process of filing messages if you install Swiftfile, the free add-on from IBM that learns your message filing habits and gives quick links for the 3 folders you will most likely want to file the message. In just one click the message is filed and next one opened. (see screen shot)
For more on this topic, check out the book Getting Things Done by David Allen.
Breaking News: The Passport Advantage website has been updated!
Thu, Feb 28th 2013 10:11p David Hablewitz In case you hadn’t noticed, the Passport Advantage website has a new look. I have not yet had a chance to explore it in detail. It looks like some (but not all) of the old issues have been cleaned up and it sports the new IBM website skin. I will post a more detailed review later. Meanwhile, take a moment to have a look. For comparison, see my article reviewing it almost 2 years ago. I’m anxious to see what was done that took 2 years of business justification and web development to [read] Keywords: ibm
IBM announces MobileFirst and partnership with AT&T
Tue, Feb 26th 2013 11:14a David Hablewitz News sources are reporting the new announcement of IBM MobileFirst solutions portfolio. This is big because, unlike other players in this market, IBM is the leader in remaining device agnostic in the BYOD (bring your own device) business world. Mobile technology is blurring the lines between consumer and business tools. There is no doubt in my mind as I watch my 13-year-old daughter do 90% of her computer-related activities on her smartphone that this is the destiny of technology. It is [read] Keywords: ibm
Putting Social Media to the test: Face-to-face vs. Online
Thu, Feb 14th 2013 3:11p David Hablewitz Which delivery method do you think has the greatest impact: Face-to-face, telephone, or online? Certainly face-to-face allows you to deliver the most personal message, but the web allows for a much broader reach. Phone calls are somewhere in between. So here is the challenge…
I am a firm believer in charity. I feel it is important to give back to the community. Over the years I have been helping with the YMCA Partners With Youth (PWY) campaign. This fund provides scholarships to families [read] Keywords: connections
Doing well or not, it’s all about attitude.
Tue, Feb 12th 2013 7:11p David Hablewitz I first posted this in my status on Facebook. But the comments that followed my post made me realize this is relevant to a broader audience, so I will share it again here.
These people on the Carnival cruise adrift in the Gulf of Mexico are complaining because they have no air conditioning, no lights, no flushing toilets, limited hot and cold food, stuck in close quarters with a bunch of people they don’t know. Some are sleeping in tents outside because it’s so hot. Funny. We h [read] Keywords: facebook
Passport Advantage Revisited 2 years later…
Thu, Jan 31st 2013 6:12a David Hablewitz In August 2011 I posted an article giving a detailed analysis of the design of the IBM Passport Advantage website. That article received a great deal of attention, not only from the Lotus user community, but also from executives at IBM. I was even contacted by the person who oversaw the team responsible for the site. Finally, I thought, we would see some relief in our pain dealing with this website.
It’s nearly 2 years later. There have been some changes to the IBM websites, but Pas [read] Keywords: ibm