Friday, October 25, 2013

Five Ds to manage your 'In Box'

Toby Ruckert has been working for many years on a solution to information overload and other problems of ubiquitous connectivity. In a recent post, he outlines why and how new tools might help us deal with the volume of contact we recieve from various media.

He writes on his blog:

For several years it was assumed that multitasking is something that would help us to increase our intelligence. It was heavily promoted around early 2000 along the rise of our computer’s ability to do so, but it’s now clear, that except with the Dual N-Back task (which is a quite specific use case of multitasking), the increase of intelligence promoted by multitasking actually is a myth.
So for the two main ways in which people communicate, unification of both is possible, but given a user can only focus properly on one conversation at a time, unifying synchronous communication is less practical at this time.
That said, then why have asynchronous channels not been properly unified yet?
In fact, the sorting and prioritizing of such incoming messages could easily be done as per the users personal preferences (noted above) and such a system could even learn from the users behaviour eventually, making it a more intelligent inbox that gets better and better over time.
Such a Unified Inbox has the ability to sort all incoming messages and conversations according to the individual users relationships, their current focus/interests and related context, rather than just by date, subject, or sender – independent of the source of where the messages came from.
A layer with “unified inbox management features” on top of all asynchronous communication channels would further enable an information worker to deal with such messages in much the same way, rather than having to learn using different systems with different functions for the individual channels where there are frequent media breaks in conversations and synchronicity around contact data.

So what are we doing to give our users a better inbox management experience?
We’re using the concept of 5 “D’s” to empower our users managing all inboxes centrally and completely from one place, namely:
  1. Do/Deal with it (Reply/Move etc.)
  2. Delegate (Assign/Transfer responsibility, like ticketing & task management)
  3. Delete (and Archive)
  4. Defer (Delay / with or without reminder – until later)
  5. Distribute (i.e. Share a Tweet/Email on FB / vice-versa / Export to other systems etc.)
With them, it’s possible to create structured processes and workflows from previously unstructured (inbox) data, even across communication channels. While every email, tweet or facebook message is a task, because I have to deal with it somehow, it’s still the user’s personal choice of whether to manage tasks within or outside an inbox.
Making this experience (which has become such a big part of our private and working lives) easier, fun and more productive, that’s what Unified Inbox is all about.

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