Overall, the book (which I highly recommend you reading – just click on the link above to buy a cheap used copy from Amazon.com for $0.02!!!) is organized in to 5 sections, as described below.
- How to reduce email volume
- How to improve email quality
- Organizing information (email, hard drive, shared drives, teamsites, anywhere!)
- How to coach others on email
- Answers to further questions
To read the complete summary of the book, click on the Google Docs / Word document link below.
While all of the book’s sections offer great advice, I wanted to focus mainly on the “Organizing information” section, as this is what has contributed the most value to my life.
- Too many overlapping categories and/or categorization methods exist.
- There are too many primary folders in your system.
- Different shared drives, personal drives, and team sites employ mismatched folder systems, making it impossible to know where to store or find the information when you need it.
The COTAP System is an email and data/information management system that Mike invented after studying many different types of business and what sorts of information flows within these organizations.
What he found was that in all industries, all email and/or information fits in to one of 5 categories – Clients, Output, Teams, Admin, and Personal. I am a big believer in this philosophy. I have found that both at home and at work, all of my information really does fall in to one of these 5 categories.
Furthermore, I have found this system to be effective not only for my emails but also for organizing my electronic files on my hard drive.
How do I implement the COTAP System?
To create the COTAP folder system on your computer, simply follow the guidelines below, creating folders for each main category and subcategory.
- Clients – Your team’s internal or external clients
- Create a subfolder for each one of your clients
- Output – Your team’s products and services
- Create a folder for each product, project, or service you are involved in.
- Also create “general output” folder
- Teams – Your team
- Create a folder for each team of which you are a member.
- Examples would include budget teams, new pharmaceutical drug team, etc.
- Admin – Your non-core-job responsibilities
- Create a folder for each non-core-job responsibility
- Examples would include training, benefits, etc.
- Personal - Personal information that is non-job related.
- Examples would include Toastmaster’s public speaking club, Jonny’s karate schedule, cycling team, etc.
- After creating all of your respective folders, place desktop shortcuts to all of your main COTAP folders so that you can access them quickly.
Show below is a screen shot/example of the COTAP system set up on my Outlook email account. Proof that you can do it too!
|My COTAP Folders|