How to cope with an overload of emails

Mon 3 – Sun 9 April 2017

Last week was phenomenally busy not least with work and personal emails to be dealt with. The work ones based simply because of so much happening and personal emails building up because I haven’t got time to deal with them. Saturday morning I had 250 work emails and 130 personal unread ones. It made me realise I need to constantly look at my actions to ensure I am not just doing the same things automatically. That way waste and madness lies. I want to keep on doing new things in my life and I can’t get tied up in the same old crap. In large part last week was about working my way through those emails but also immersing myself in other stuff I love.

Tech for good

Boot camp

Mon morning I found myself waking up in Manchester. And, amazingly, the weather was bright, sunny, and dry. It was the day that our boot camp started for the ten new Tech for Good projects We did not start till lunchtime so I did a long and purposeful walk of about 3 miles from my hotel to the conference centre. A pleasant walk taking me through the university area (not many students because of the Easter holidays) and along Rusholme’s ‘curry mile’.

recruiting sergeantIt was great to meet the new projects as most of the assessments had been over the phone or a dodgy skype video link. And what an intensive half day. Going through grant management and the projects introducing themselves to each other. Then work on user needs, what we think we know and the assumptions these are based on, giving feedback on other projects as well as dinner and a pep talk from Dan Sutch of CAST.

I headed off the next morning after breakfast once I had given various updates. The projects then had a very intensive day just working with the techies around various issues including how to work in an agile and lean manner. Meanwhile me and Martha, the maternity cover for my job share Nissa, walked back to the station and had a good catch-up on the train back to London.

All the other stuff going on

So much else happening around tech for good leading to my email explosion; ‘stuff’ includes:

  • Starting to assess the Tech Vs Abuse shortlisted projects and getting the tech support element sorted
  • Tech and HIV (UK) programme to launch using funding from MAC the cosmetics company 
  • Ongoing research by M-ITI (Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute) on Social Tech Eco-systems in Sub-Saharan Africa), completing end May
  • Discussions with another funder about running a general tech for good funding programme again next year and perhaps even the year after as well
  • Crowdfunding pilot during summer probably consisting of 10 selected projects seeing if they can each match-fund a £10K grant
  • Pilot workshops late summer with a select group of UK and international projects to give practical support on making and using video
  • Possible grants programme to support sustainability and scaling of existing tech for good initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Supporting ongoing Shift research (with other funders) on stages of TfG development and milestones/support/funding necessary for each stage
  • Ongoing publicising of especially the new category we are sponsoring, Tech4Good for Africa award. This includes getting ready to make a promotional podcast next Tues morning. 
  • Monitoring on two big projects has come for which I need to consider and approve the next grant installment
  • Catching up with the guys at Accenture Development Partners on what is happening in the tech for good world
  • Management team meetings


Health and efficiency

Gym – taking back control?

I did something pretty revolutionary and out of character last week, I only went to the gym once. My sole gym day was Thursday, a whole week since I had last been. I am thinking I need to get exercise and try to lose weight without being so reliant on the gym. It is almost my comfort blanket. The work-out itself went well with concentration on the upper body and 20 mins on the treadmill.


I had thought about going for my jog-run on Thurs morning which would be unique as I always go early at weekends when there aren’t many people about. Dave pointed out it was half-term and so my route around St James and Green Park might be busy. Thus it was back to my regular Sat 8am slot. All went well though nearly two minutes slower than my best ever time.


Oops, went for my INR check on Fri and it was ‘out of range’. Basically my blood is in danger of clotting. Almost certainly linked to me missing taking my meds a couple of times. Ho hum, big dose for couple of days and then back to get it checked again in a fortnight.

Personal development, art and culture

Taking back control

immersed by air and sea

The ‘busy-ness’ of last week meant I have really struggled to keep on top of both work and private emails. So I followed a strategy of regularly concentrating on getting my emails under control whilst also deliberately time to do thing I enjoy.


You know I enjoy languages and wish I was so much better at speaking other ones beyond just English. Unfortunately my grand plan to do Duolingo everyday came to nought with three whole days missed on Mon, Wed and Fri. All due to simply being too busy. Mon at the boot camp, Wed dealing with stuff going on at work, and Fri just trying to enjoy myself. But the positive is that I did some. And I managed to catch up with some vids on WordPress TV – this links into my desire to know more about coding.

Alternative Friday

So to have a break from normal life (gym and emails), after attending the INR clinic on Fri morning I then went on to have a wander around the charity shops of North End Road in Fulham. I also stopped for coffee and chilled in the sunshine before going on to mum’s to check she was OK. I was meant to be with her for the Housing Association’s surveyor visiting in the afternoon. However he turned up early before I arrived. I then took a load of books I had read up to the Notting Hill Exchange and swapped them for some vouchers. Spent a few but kept most back to treat myself at some point in the future. Popping along to the exchange to indulge my love of books is something for me to look forward to.

Sunny weekend

A lot of the time at weekend was taken up with dealing with emails. Indeed, by deliberately not going to the gym on Sun morning, I created a lot of extra time for myself. But it couldn’t be all just emails or I would have gone crazy. I enjoyed the sunny weather but also went to the cinema (see below). On Sun I had my haircut and went with Dave to the car boot sale at Pimlico. Wonderful to just wander around in the Sun looking at stuff though I didn’t buy too much.


Sat afternoon and off to the ICA to immerse myself in a French-language film though actually made in Belgium. This has won some awards and it was not what I was expecting. A young woman from a family of vegetarian vets goes off to vet school where her sister studies. This is actually a horror movie more than anything. Indeed it’s got pretty much everything in it including dodgy initiation ceremonies, sibling rivalry, cannibalism, and possibly even vampires. It is amazingly gory. Only me and a straight couple in the little cinema. I think they were as overwhelmed by it as I was. Pretty good Dave did not come with me as he would have walked out.

Books and reading

Again one of the pressure valves that keeps me sane in the midst of dealing with the demands of work.

‘My Name is N’ by Robert Karjel

This was the book to be read for the Velvet Page Book Club that met on Thursday. Only just over a half dozen of us but a nice catch-up. Overall we felt this was a decent but pretty confusing thriller. I am not normally into thrillers – too flashy and fast-moving, so often tripping themselves up in their attempt to be clever. It is also obvious that many are written to be made into movies. This one features a gay central character but his being gay doesn’t really matter and his lover is ill with AIDS in a very old-fashioned way (the novel is set in the noughties). Lots of tooing and froing. It sort of comes together in the end but you are not 100% sure you understand everything that has taken place.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘Army of Death’ (eighth Doctor Paul McGann + companion Mary Shelley)

The third of the trilogy featuring Mary Shelley as the Doctor’s companion. I don’t think any more were made featuring her though she’s a good person to pal up with him as she has her early nineteenth century outlook. The story itself is OK being about assassinated rival presidents on an alien planet. It is not a great story fundamentally because it is confusing. The title refers to an army of skeletons raised by a ‘dead’ leader though that almost seems a bit out of place. I suspect I need to re-listen to at some point if I ever have the time…

‘The Magic Mousetrap’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companions Ace and Hex)

This one really confused me. After the second episode there were interviews with the story-writer, actors et al. Them speaking made me realise that the story is set in an asylum in Switzerland. Indeed it is based on the novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ by Thomas Mann. I have never read this book primarily as it is so long. It’s about the Doctor and his companions being part of the community of people living in the asylum. I did go through and listen to the first two episodes again which made more sense. The surprise during the next two episodes is that the Doctor’s old adversary The Celestial Toymaker is involved.

Looking ahead

Good stuff for next week:

  • It’s Easter – I’m off to Berlin to chill and enjoy myself
  • Catch up with other Tech for Good enthusiasts at Cassie’s Mon meeting
  • Making a podcast
  • Checking in with M-ITI
  • Talking with James and Dan re support to the ten new Tech for Good projects
  • Discussion on running a Sport for Change / Tech for Good programme
  • Saying farewell to Nissa as she goes off to have her baby and getting Martha more involved
  • Gym at least once
  • Duolingo every day and some coding
  • Finishing reading at least two books and listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures


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