the left has my list of e-mails. On the center screen is
specific e-mail I’m reading and responding to. And my browser
right-hand screen. This setup gives me the ability to glance and
on something, and to bring up a
related to an e-mail and look at it while the e-mail is still
choice, more than phone calls,
blogs, bulletin boards, or even meetings (voicemails and faxes
integrated into our e-mail in-boxes).
100 e-mails a day. We apply filtering to keep it to that
comes straight to me from anyone I’ve ever corresponded with,
Microsoft, Intel, HP, and all the other partner companies, and
know. And I always see a write-up from my assistant of any other
companies that aren’t on my permission list or individuals I
That way I know what people are praising us for, what they are
about, and what they are asking.
isn’t how to communicate
with e-mail, it’s ensuring that you spend your time on the
matters most. I use tools like “in-box rules” and search
mark and group messages based on their content and importance.
on to-do lists. Instead, I use e-mail and desktop folders and
calendar. So when I walk up to my desk, I can focus on the
flagged and check the folders that are monitoring particular
that comes up in the lower
whenever a new e-mail comes in. We call it the toast. I’m very
about ignoring that unless I see that it’s a high-priority
focused is one issue; that’s the problem of information overload.
problem is information underload. Being flooded with information
we have the right information or that we’re in touch with the
deal with this by using SharePoint, a tool that creates websites for
on specific projects. These sites contain plans, schedules,
boards, and other information, and they can be created by just
in the company with a couple of clicks.
I’m getting ready for Think Week. In May, I’ll go off for a
100 or more papers from Microsoft employees that examine
related to the company and the future of technology. I’ve been
an all-paper process in which
only one doing the reading and commenting. Today the whole
digital and open to the entire company.
right papers to read, and I can
electronic comments that everyone sees in real time.
more than 50,000 people, so when I’m thinking, “Hey, what’s
the online payment system?” or “What’s a great way to keep
memories of your kid?” or any neat new thing, I write it
people can see it and say, “No, you’re wrong” or “Did you know
work being done at such-and-such a place?”
people deep in the organization.
having a super-website that lets many people edit and
more than the standard practice of sending e-mails with
And it notifies you if anything comes up in an area you’re
effect on my productivity is
search. It has transformed the way I access information on my PC,
and on the Internet. With larger hard drives and increasing
now have gigabytes of information on my PC and servers in the
e-mails, documents, media files, contact databases, and so on.
having to navigate through folders to find that one document
a piece of information might be, I simply type search terms
toolbar and all the e-mails and documents that contain that
are at my fingertips. The same goes for phone numbers and
get 90% of my news online, and
a meeting and want to jot things down, I bring my Tablet PC.
synchronized with my office machine so I have all the files I
has a note-taking piece of software called OneNote, so all
in digital form.
in my office is my whiteboard. I
nice color pens, and it’s great for brainstorming when I’m
people, and even sometimes by myself.
have the ability to capture an
send it up to the computer, almost like a huge Tablet PC. I
that right now, but probably I’ll get a digital whiteboard in
year. Today, if there’s something up there that’s brilliant, I
my pen and my Tablet PC and recreate it.
often filled with meetings. It’s a nice luxury to get some time
up my thoughts or follow up on meetings during the day. But
that doesn’t happen. So then it’s great after the kids go to bed
just sit at home and go through whatever e-mail I didn’t get
entire week is very busy, it’s the weekend when I’ll send the
thoughtful pieces of e-mail. When people come in Monday morning,
that I’ve been quite busy— they’ll have a lot of e-mail.