September 13th, 2007 | Published in Gmail (Google Mail)
So here's my next tip in the series I started a few weeks ago:
I laugh when I remember what I was like as a new mom. I was determined to be perfect: feeding only homemade food that I blended or pureed myself (great book about this btw) and organizing toys into drawers with labels like cars, puzzles, and blocks. But when the reality of every day life sets in, it's almost impossible to keep that up. Nowadays, I'm just proud when my house doesn't look like a hurricane just blew through it and my kids have eaten something green for dinner.
Lots of things I do work this way. Take email. First, I make very specific labels for all of the categories that I might need - meeting notes, action items, personal - and I very meticulously use these labels for maybe a month or so. But then, I get overwhelmed and don't have the time to spend filing things under each of these categories. This is the point where Gmail really starts to help me out. The reason I categorized everything in the first place was to find it again quickly, right? Well, if I can find anything easily with search, then why should I take the extra time organizing? For my purposes, searching takes much less time and works just as well.
Now, when I'm done with an email, I archive it. It's not deleted, but I don't have to see it and I can find it quickly anytime. And every day I have a few more bits of time to spend having that wonderful glass of wine after the kids go to bed - oh, and more time to spend with the kids too.
If only I had Gmail for my living room. With one button, I would remove all toys from the floor to a placeout of sight,and then, at any time, quickly find that special Thomas the train that my son is asking me about. Now that would make me a supermom. :-)
Here's a snippet from blogger Megan Morrone, who also has twins (here's a post from when her twins stopped napping - so funny!), talking about archiving, searching and how she uses Labels to organize her Gmail:
"I love Gmail's archive and search features. They give me license to get e-mails out of my inbox quickly without fear of losing them. It took me a little longer to appreciate the Labels feature. Now, I'm in love. Each of my kids gets a label so I can look at e-mails that apply directly to them, whether it be about playdates, school, or activities. I also have labels for my real job, my podcast, my blog, and other blog networks I belong to. And if e-mails ever fall in more than one category, I give them more than one label. It makes things really, really easy."
Send your own work-life balance suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share them here.