Manage Your Daily E-mail 149
Introduction to “Waste Management”
Take a look at Figure 4.2 below. Do you recognize the situation in
your own life? Maybe in a colleague’s life?
Figure 4.2: Principles of “waste management.”
One of the hardest tasks for the above person is throwing something
away. He applies this principle to all his incoming mail. He thinks
that, if he throws something into the trashcan or deletes an e-mail,
the very next day someone will want it. Therefore, he keeps every-
thing, either in filing cabinets or drawers or on his computer. Most of
it could be considered trash, but he lives by the saying: “Someday,
someone will ask for that information—it’s best to keep it.”
He has adopted the management principle called “waste manage-
ment.” The underlying principle is to store “garbage” in places next
to him. At home, what do we normally do with the garbage?
Naturally, we throw it in trash containers. However, this man keeps
this garbage at this worktable and spends his entire day in crisis
150 Effective Screen Reading
mode. Because he is unable to prioritize, every task is both impor-
tant and urgent.
Take a look at your worktable. Do you see any “garbage?”
In Figure 4.2, take a look at the time (8:20), which is a reflection of
the position of the mouth. Notice there are two briefcases. What do
you think is the purpose of the second briefcase? Maybe at the end
of the day, he will take unread papers and other unfinished work
home with him. Do you think he enjoys his working life? Possibly for
him, burnout is waiting around the corner.
The picture of “waste management” may seem ridiculous and funny,
at least at first glance. In the end, the principles depicted may prove
to be very costly for the company. If the person in the picture is, for
example, in charge of sales and thus dealing with customers, think
about these questions:
Would his decisions/offers have been better if he had had the
time to read all the material related to the customer request
or bid?
Would the company have made more money if his decisions
and offers had been based on all the available information
about the competitive situation, market analysis, price levels,
product qualities, economic indicators, etc.?
A-, B-, C-, and T
One of the most efficient ways to manage the incoming flow of
printed or electronic mail is to apply ABCT² analysis. This tech-
nique divides your mail and other tasks into four categories based
on the criteria important-urgent. All mail is classified either impor-
tant or not important, urgent or not urgent, from the business point
of view. You need to consider if the task in question is important
and urgent and whether its execution will lead to some kind of
benefit for the company. This method will help you place your
printed or electronic mail into four main categories: A, B, C, and T².
The overall goal is to maximize the time spent on tasks in the top
two quadrants and minimize the time spent on tasks in the bottom
two quadrants. Figure 4.3 simplifies this division.
Manage Your Daily E-mail 151
Figure 4.3: ABCT
A-mail: Do it now! All mail that is important and urgent from your
business point of view and requires almost immediate response is
taken into the A-folder. This A-category consists of mail and tasks
that require your action during that day, or at the latest within 24
hours. Items that could be classified in this category are, for
A request, letter, or e-mail from your customer. Even
though you may not be able to give the correct answer
immediately, it pays off to send a quick message thanking
the sender for their interest and informing them that you will
get back later.
A complaint from your customer. Here you need to react
instantly. One customer left unsatisfied could mean losing
up to 24 other customers. One happy customer will result in
8 more.
A task from your boss (written or oral) to be carried out
immediately. You can always ask yourself, What happens if
I fail to do it on time?
A bid due shortly. If you do not respond on time, your com-
pany can lose the deal and a great deal of money.

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