Notification and email management

Fedora 16 & Gnome3

Been thinking about replacing my work mobile phone for a while. Its a XDA Windows Mobile 6.1 phone and to be honest the battery life and general use it shocking. Unfortunately the BBC don’t support Android for work mobiles but they do support iPhones and Blackberry. Interestingly they also don’t support Windows Phone 7 either which is strange because they did support Mobile 6.1/6.5.

I almost went with the iPhone option as it has the advantage of remote BBC email and a familiar modern operating system.

However I’ve been thinking about my email management…

There was a period while I was running BBC backstage when I was getting roughly 150+ emails a day not including any mailing lists emails. I was dealing with it, only just… I felt crap because I was missing stuff and not really catching up with people I promised email back. Not only that, I knew I was much less productive because I was always firefighting emails coming into my inbox. This was confirmed by using Rescuetime for about a year or two. Once I get it working with Ubuntu, I’ll be quantifying my work more often. Rescuetime say they are working on a Linux version which is easier that.

I recently also adopted the 4 thing after seeing Oli Woods email signature one day…

The Problem
E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.
The Solution
Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead. is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be four sentences or less. It’s that simple.

Everytime I send out a email to someone new in the BBC, they reply and also said they like the idea of 4 but can’t imagine adopting it. I use to think the same, but with a little thought, I manage to condense at least 90% of my emails exchanges down to the 4 sentences. The footer message helps to explain to the recipients that you will be very brief. Not only that, it helps to separate out email responses too.

Seems theres nothing worst than getting a chain of emails with multiple ideas and thought in them. Although I can be as much to blame for this as most others.

What I’ve recently been doing is only checking my email once every few hours. This is partly because I have to switch networks to get my work email. Yes I could mess with proxy settings and setup routes but actually I quite like disconnecting from the corporate network to catchup with Twitter, Gmail, etc. Don’t get me wrong its not just personal type stuff, its google docs, evernote, dropbox syncing, etc. All part of working life… But if they are, what isn’t?

Recently my manager gave up his blackberry, I’m sure his life will be better without it. I don’t blame him really.

The notifications can be worst than the email itself, I’d contest..

I’ve been showing people Gnome Shell or Gnome3 recently specially since I got my new replacement Lenovo X220 Thinkpad (which I’m now starting to love, now the hardware works correctly). I’m finding the management of notifications really useful and the idea of hiding that stuff away really good for getting stuff/things done. Once it really gets going, its going to be awesome for notification management.

In the meanwhile, I decided not to upgrade my phone and I’ve put the Sim into my thinkpad to use for work when I can’t get use Wifi or a network connection. Now if I could just find a Linux application which allows me to manage texts and phone calls… then I’d be very happy.