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Blackberry Management

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, 12 years and 167 days ago. Viewed 4,705 times. #3
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The Blackberry

(29 January 2008)

I don't view my Blackberry as an email tool. My Blackberry is a communications device.

The difference is that an email tool is for managing email. My Blackberry is merely a conduit through which I see what has arrived in my email so that I can deal with any fires.

The reason why I don't view the Blackberry as an email tool is because the Pearl I have (and the 7250 I had before that) is cursed with a tiny, practically unusable keyboard. While this keyboard is enough for quick messages, it is not enough to write out the type of wordy messages I tend to write. So since I can't deal with email entirely how I would like (see Email Inbox Management), I only reply to emergencies and/or messages which can be dealt with in two or three sentences.

There are two parts to dealing with email on the Blackberry.

Be Specific With Filtering Rules

...or, if it doesn't reach you, it can't waste your time.

When I started with my blackberry, the only way an email would get delivered to my blackberry would be if my address was in the To: field. The rationale was that anything not explicitly To: me wasn't important enough to be forwarded and could wait.

Once it got to my blackberry, the only emails which would alert me were those which were either flagged as "Important!", or were from my wife. The rationale here is that if it isn't flagged as "Important!", it isn't important enough to interrupt what I was doing. And the wife is always "Important!", both for a relationship management reason (always treat your wife as being important!) and because she doesn't abuse the privilege.

This gave me a multi-leveled system, which increased the possibility that any urgent messages could get to me in a timely manner. Anything else would wait, to the point of being unreachable from my Blackberry, until I was back at a computer where I could manage the email properly. This removed the temptation to attempt to manage the email remotely in situations where I was supposed to be doing other things (ie: not working).

Of course there are problems with this: I am now periodically receiving time-sensitive email from a forward pager email address where I can't reliably predict what the sending email is going to be. This means I have to write my filters to exclude some low-hanging fruit (ie all the root-generated email reports every morning) but just about everything else gets forwarded to the blackberry.

The rule about notification is still in place. If it isn't flagged as "Important" (or match some other destinations related to the pager address) then it doesn't alert me and I get it when I happen to look at it.

In either case it feeds the second part of my system:

Read, Act (if necessary), but Always Delete

My Blackberry is set so that email deleted from the handheld is NOT deleted from the Inbox on my Exchange server.

So I read the email, then act immediately (or not), then empty the handheld's inbox. That way I don't have to deal with it again on the handheld.

There will always be exceptions to this: for example if I am on call and I get an alert while I am out in the park with my sons, I won't delete that email while I get myself home to deal with the issue.

Controlling Accessibility

The final thing I do is more about controlling my accessibility through the Blackberry. When I am not on call, my Blackberry turns itself off every night at 11PM, and back on at 7PM. This gives me time when both my wife and I know that I can't be trivially reached; if something is really that important, someone will dig up my home number and call me directly.

Similarlly, when not on call, I will generally come home and put my Blackberry upstairs where I can't hear it. This gives time for the family to come first, where I'm not reflexively checking my Blackberry every ten minutes.

This is in direct conflict with the idea that a company gives you a Blackberry so that you can be more reachable; however you have to set boundaries or you will end up working all the time. This will be at the expense of your family.

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