#ATD2015 Session: Time Management is Dead & Get Control of Email and Outlook

Time Management is Dead & Get Control ofNormally, I do not sit in on vendor sessions. During this ATD Conference I sat in on two given by the same person, Mike Song, CEO of GetControl.net. The topics sounded interesting, something I certainly needed. I am always trying to figure out how to better manage my time and email.  For the few tips I picked up, the sessions were worth it.

Song stated that he had 50k surveys from different companies to identify their pain points regarding time management and email control. With this information, he and his team have developed strategies to help companies and organizations save time and resources. He does this through onsite training, Webinars, and books  he has written. I picked up two of the books, and I was pleased with the suggestions. I will write about them later.

Some of the information seemed counter-intuitive, such as don’t maintain a to do system, because it creates another task that you will not do. If you do have a to do system, leverage technology to make it work for you. Put it on you desktop toolbar where you will access it quickly. Instead of a daily to-do list, he recommends a weekly list. Personally, I maintain a weekly list in my Evernote. What I need to do, is connect it to my toolbar.

According to Song, one day out of the week is wasted on email, meetings, and info. We need to figure how to better manage this glut of information. Song recommends creating “Zip zones” on the Windows toolbar where you can get one click access.

Weekly Get Control Task List

If you are going to have a task list, Song recommends a once weekly 15-minute planning session. List professional and personal tasks on two separate sections of your list. Split your professional tasks into two columns: Top 20 of high importance and low importance.

From this master list, create quick task lists of 1 to 3 tasks. Something you can knock out quickly.

Don’t do a zero inbox

Song believes a zero inbox is more frustrating and time-consuming than what it is worth. Instead, leverage technology to help you work more efficiently. Use auto correct and quick parts to build quick and clear email messages and meeting agendas.

Managing Email

What bothers most people about email? It is like dishes and laundry, it never seems to stop. According to Song, we send and receive an average of 32,600 messages each year.  If we could reduce by 20%, we would recover 15 work days. Additionally, email interrupts workflow by 15 minutes.

Song suggests 3 ways to get control

  • Filter
  • Declutter inbox
  • Prioritize


1. Highlight a low priority sender and assign rule to move the message to a folder.

2. Filter junk senders. There is a filter button you can add to the quick access toolbar. It is important to update your quick access toolbar as well as move it below the ribbon bar.

3. Filter noises and distractions. This can be accomplished by going to File -> options -> mail -> message arrival. Uncheck all 4 boxes.

Declutter inbox

You can declutter you email by deleting unneeded email. Start by sorting your email, then selecting messages to be deleted. You can sort by:

  • Old to new
  • VIP sender
  • Email size

Song also showed how to quickly create a calendar event, contact, and task by dragging an email to the respective tab.


Use Smart colors and categories to help prioritize your email.

1. Click categorize and edit all categories. This works in contacts, calendar, and email.

Want to get less email?

Send less email, get less email.

When you are sending an email message, ask yourself if the email is needed and appropriate, also, ask if you are sending it to the right people.

Song also recommends improving your email message starting with the subject line.  Most email messages suffer from:

  • 81% vague subject line
  • 78% needs clarification
  • 83% action buried

Write clear email messages with a good subject. Use subject headers and bullet points to make easier to understand and read.

Finally, Song showed us how to dictate an email from our phones.

This was quite an enjoyable set of presentations, and I picked up a bunch of new ideas. I will be working with my team to try some of these ideas out. I will keep you informed.

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