How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.
The business world runs on email.
Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist. But beyond basic communication, email can be just as much of a distraction as it is a tool. This is where Inbox Zero comes in.
You’ve heard of Inbox Zero, right? It’s a productivity hack, a system that was developed as a way of managing email clutter and distractions. The goal is to keep the inbox empty – or nearly empty – at all times. Inbox zero. It’s a great goal, one that a lot of people work hard to maintain on a daily basis. This is not about those people.
This is about other people. Those whose inbox will fill up with emails, into the thousands, and they’ll set aside a day to try and achieve Inbox Zero through mass deletions and processing. It’s a one day blitz and after achieving their goal, and celebrating, the user goes back to business as usual.
Using Inbox Zero this way is just like putting your inbox on a diet.
The problem with so many diets out there is that they are focused only on achieving the result. Drink this shake and lose 10 pounds. Try this meal plan for a month and lose 15 pounds. The thought is you go on a diet, then eventually you go off a diet and return to your normal life. With this approach, there’s no permanent change in how you behave. Once you’re off the diet you go back to living the behaviors that got you there in the first place.
Too many people use Inbox Zero like a diet for your inbox. They focus on getting the result – zero emails – thinking this will solve all their email problems. But an inbox diet isn’t the answer to email management. Better habits are.
So what can you do today to better manage your email?
- Make a decision about that email the first time you read it – action item, reference item, or trash. Read and react.
- Create filters to keep your inbox uncluttered. Get those urgent items front and center instead of hidden in the spam.
- Set specific times to check emails and turn off your notifications. Theses dings and flags interrupt your workflow and decrease your productivity.
- Be the change you want to see in the world. Send the type of messages you want to receive and model positive email behavior to others.
And remember, better email management is a lifestyle change, not a diet. Instead of chasing the goal of trying to get down to zero emails in your inbox, focus on building better habits as the way to manage your inbox and incoming email!
Need help getting your email under control? Call me and let’s talk about how!