Be an Inbox Hero with Inbox Zero!
Check out any article on email management and you’ll see the phrase ‘Inbox Zero’. Although it’s a been a concept for many years, the current definition explains that having zero emails in your inbox is a sign of success. But did you know that wasn’t the original intent? Merlin Mann, the guy behind Inbox Zero, didn’t see the zero as a reference to the number of messages in an inbox, but “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox”.
So how do you go about spending less time in your inbox? Especially when your unread messages are climbing past triple digits. Sorting and clearing out email is rewarding because it is a finite task, you can check it off your daily list, but constantly shuffling and organizing email isn’t necessarily productive.
Too often, people use the inbox as a type of to-do list. Emails that need attention are left in the inbox because it’s a ‘safe’ spot, but as more emails come in, it’s easy for these action items to get lost. The goal of Inbox Zero is to spend less time playing with your email and more time doing stuff. Achieve this by having a strategy for approaching your email inbox.
- Take back control of your time – turn off email notifications on your computer and mobile devices. Instead of letting email constantly interrupt your day, schedule email breaks throughout the day, and resist the temptation to check in between times.
- When you do approach your inbox
- Decide what a message is – Action OR Reference OR Trash
- Decide what must be done – Trash, Action (2 min task or add to To Do), File into reference
- Do the task or Delegate the task (Not all emails require an answer)
- And finally, send the type of emails you want to receive
Inbox Zero Tools
There are a multitude of tools available these days to help you achieve Inbox Zero – some of which may be part of your current email provider!
Canned Responses /Templates – Create these for your most asked questions, this can take a 5-minute email down to a 2-minute task
Filters – Use these for those frequently mailed items that don’t need immediate attention, but you want to keep to view later.
SaneBox – Filters emails for you, learns your needs the more you use it, starts at $7/mo
Zapier – Use to link your email and your to-do list app; once you decide an email needs action, send it to your task list
Sort’d & Boomerang – Designed for Gmail
Is there an email productivity app you love? Let me know – either here or over on Facebook!