Do you remember what in inbox is? An inbox in a physical box that sits on a desk, where the company mailman deposits mail addressed to you. Like this:
It in an in-BOX.
For some reason people don’t like having a physical box full of papers on their desk, but 1000 emails in their email inbox they feel fine with.
This post is an inbox zero how to, which will help you bring your email under control.
A full inbox breaks productivity
With that many emails in your box, how do you expect to get anything done? Keeping track of:
- Which one you responded to
- Which needs to be responded to
- Which is urgent
- Which can be dealt with later (and when)
It’s pure chaos, and not the fun kind. It’s the kind that keeps you up at night.
Inbox zero makes you feel better
An empty inbox is a sign that you are in control of your digital life. You rule your inbox, not the other way around. Not only will this increase your productivity on your email level, but you will feel a lot better.
Step 1: Getting rid of junk
Go through your remaining mail and ask yourself:
- Is it essential that I react to this email?
- Do I need to do anything as a result of this email?
If the answers are no, archive it.
Bonus: use a service like unroll.me to get rid of all automatic emails at once.
Step 2: Processing important things
If an email requires your attention, either through a response or as a task you need to do:
- Act now
- Write the to-do down and archive the email
- Archive mail tha is not as important as you originally estimated
Email is not a long term task manager. Every email should to be processed.
Step 3: Retain inbox zero
Every email is a task. And tasks need to be processed, or planned for later. So with every email ask:
- Does this require my attention?
- If yes: proceed to next step
- If no: archive mail, or forward to appropriate person
- Can I do this now?
- If yes: do it now
- If no: plan it in for later and archive the email
At the end of the day, your inbox needs to be empty.
Tips & tricks
A great way to maintain this is Google’s inbox project (inbox.google.com), which treats every email as a task. You can either ‘complete’ the email or snooze it for later.
Inbox zero benefits greatly from proper email hygiene. When you open your email, plan a set amount of time to process it. Say “I’m going to spend 15 minutes on email” and then stop. Don’t let email be your constant focus.