Inbox Zero is Easy

Inbox zero is a concept that many think is not achievable and a great concept but ‘impossible for them to achieve’ These people are either lazy, lying to themselves, and procrastinators (That might all be a little harsh)

Inbox Zero was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. According to Mann, zero is not a reference to the number of emails in an inbox; it is “the amount of time a brain is in the inbox.” Mann’s point is time and attention are limited and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity suffers.

Mann identifies five possible actions to take for each message: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

The big advantages of inbox zero to me are:

  • A clean inbox equals a clear, stress free mind
  • Day isn’t ruled by thinking about all those emails you need to get to
  • A clean inbox means everything is either responded to, scheduled, moved on to someone else, or discarded: Organised.
  • Gets things done so you can move onto more important things

Email is something that in the current working environment, is impossible to get rid of completely (even though I know people have tried), so the best we can do is manage it well and not let it control us.

The rules I have for achieving Inbox Zero every day (This should 100% be the goal, not once a week, or every now and then…)

  • Be quick and to the point with replies. It’s very rare that it should take you more than 5 minutes to send or reply to an email. If it does perhaps a phone call is in order?
  • Action emails straight away as much as possible. If you leave it in your inbox to do ‘later’, you are really doing this because you don’t want to reply, your putting it off. Rip the band aid off as soon as you get it.
  • If you can’t or don’t need to respond/action to an email right away, use a tool to flick it back to your inbox at a later date when you will action it appropriately (Use a chrome plugin such as Mailfred or Boomerang)
  • Have good labels setup (And auto labels) in gmail to make finding mail easier (Although the search function is actually pretty good)
  • Unsubscribe from as many email newsletters as possible (Only keep ones that are super important) as these can be big time drains and add to the volume of emails you have

Don’t put it off!

Choose today as your first day of inbox zero, and then just start the habit. You will gain a reputation as someone who responds quickly, and you will escape from the handcuffs of your emails!

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