Who cares if my in-box has 16,000? Who cares if my “All Mail” folder has more than 100,000? … I actually like that I have all these messages, because in an age of effectively limitless cloud storage, my Gmail account has become my second memory. With a quick search I can find e-mail addresses and phone numbers – it’s like my own private Wikipedia. I don’t even bother with folders or labels anymore, as a search gets me what I’m looking for without any groundwork on my part. In-Box Hero, Sam Grobart, Bloomberg Businessweek, Jul 15, 2013.
I would never delete e-mail. I would simply archive them to a folder out of the way. When I wanted to know what we did on a past project for a particular type of task, I would search my e-mail, because it was all there.
See in addition Five Techniques for Overcoming E-Mail Infoglut
The key is that as smart as some people are, this complex life of ours makes it nearly impossible to remember the details of those last projects. Being able to pull up and review what happened in those projects when we were at a certain stage or encountered a certain kind of problem is invaluable. Being able to pull up how long something took, from beginning to end, is often critical when planning the current project.
Yes, of course we probably have official records of those last projects. We might even have a lessoned learned document or even a wiki. Nevertheless, I’ve found that when digging up what really happened in a project and getting good data on how long things really took to do, that a great source of information, often better than any official plans is my archived email.
Another great source is the archive of all those status reports and meeting minutes. The key is that it gives us all the intermediate things that went on where final and official records usually only give us what finally happened, if even that.
Also see of course One More Way To Fight E-Mail Glut, Talk!
Getting good information on recent project performance and using that to predict the most probable current performance was the key that rocketed struggling organizations to on time delivery with good quality. All those e-mails we get turn out to be one of the best resources I’ve found for recalling what has happened in the past and for ensuring that our current projects benefited from that experience.
Where have you found the best source of past project information and does it help you to deliver on time with good quality?