I only heard about Evernote recently (via this which I stumbled upon via WordPress), and have been using it for a few weeks. It’s great, and has made a big difference to how I keep notes and lists. It takes almost no time to set up, and saves a huge amount of time. You can find it here. It’s free (there is a quota for data, but I’m not even close). The advantage is that you simply install it once on all devices – I have it on my home pc, work computer/laptop, iPad and Blackberry phone. And then anything you do in Evernote on any of these is synchronised with all. I always have at least one of these with me in any work situation.
So my ‘to do’ list is no longer on paper, my Society and Space working notes are now on here instead of in a notebook, my lists of things to read, check out of libraries, books that I’ve ordered, etc. The advantages are huge: instead of bookmarking a webpage that is something I want to go back to later, I send it to Evernote (the program links to many others); emails you might keep unread for later reference can be copied and saved here. I’ve started keeping notes on future projects/chapters of the next book in this and just throw references into these as I come across them. I used to do this in Word files, but unless I had these all saved in something like dropbox, I couldn’t always access them when on another device. There are loads of other things I’ve not tried yet – you can scan documents into it, or take photos of things which are sent to it, for example.
One other thing: read the Email charter. I confess I fall foul of some of these. It is a diagnosis of a problem: “The average time taken to respond to an email is greater, in aggregate, than the time it took to create”. My only criticism of the Email charter is that is puts the entire onus on the sender of emails.
This story of one person’s email chaos is deeply worrying, but there are some obvious solutions in the comments (folders, delete, and filters). Anyone keeping nearly 1,500 emails in an inbox is in trouble. They are definitely not alone. Yes, it takes time to set up filters, but it will save you time many times over. And other people’s time. Because if you’re disorganised with email, you create work. One of those messages might be important and you will miss stuff if you have that many emails waiting to be dealt with.
The email charter is good. But it puts all the onus on the sender to send less. That’s important. But it’s not enough. There also needs to be more of a commitment to get a grip on email chaos and not to allow things like this to build up.