Inbox zero. Is it even real? Is this beast just a myth?
And if it is real how do I capture this golden beast?
First things first, it is real. I am there every day and it is something that is not only attainable, but it is also maintainable once you are there. Before we dive into how, let me ask you why. Why do you want inbox zero? What is so appealing about it? Let me know in the comments. Also if these tips help you find this elusive beast, drop me a note about that and how it helps your daily flow.
OMG I have 437 inbox notifications after my super lovely 3 day soccer tournament weekend. How the heck am I going to get this under control???
Step 1. Don’t panic
Step 2. Get a cup of your favorite motivating beverage
Step 3. Skim
A note on this step, you should have your email set up so you can see the sender, the header and at least the first line of the email. Once your email is set up like this take a quick glance down the list, no opening yet, and delete all the crap. You know the crap that collects just like junk mail in your real life mailbox. Toss it. Don’t even open it. If you have a moment extra, unsubscribe to the nonsense. If you use Gmail this feature is built right in!
Step 4. Emergency!
In the skimming step I see a bright red flag with an urgent sticker and a biohazard warning! Oh no! What now? Look at it. Is it really an emergency? This is the most important question you can ask while working your email. You DO NOT have to classify it as an emergency just because the sender did. If it is not really an emergency for you then flag it for later action or file it away if you do not have to act on it. Yes I said file it.
Step 5. Email chains.
While skimming you notice that Frank and Sarah have added you to an email conversation that has grown to 43 emails. That is quite the conversation. Delete 42 of the emails. No really. Just keep the most recent one. It will have all the pertinents you need. An attachment or two may be missing, but 92.7% of the time the issue will be handled by the time you read the email anyway. The other 7.3% of the time you can dig the attachment out of the trash or ask for it to be resent.
Step 6. Daily work load.
You should be down to a reasonable number of emails now. Make sure you skim once more to identify any that need to be rerouted to the correct person/department etc. Make your daily battle plan off of these remaining emails by reading, understanding what needs to happen with each one and flagging or filing them appropriately. Quick note here, just because the email is read, does not mean you have to take action on it right then. I personally read all my emails before I take action so I know how to prioritize my day.
Work this process on the daily to bring you more efficiency and that elusive inbox zero will soon be yours! Need guidance on your specific industry/inbox? PM me to chat and I can work with you on personal solutions.
Happy productivity and a wish for you to be done by noon!