Stop using your email as a holding pen for I should do’s and somedays.

Me, thinking to myself 🙂

My email inbox was a bottomless pile of messages seen and considered but not resolved. Having so many small choices increased my stress and reduced my ability to get things done.

Then, about a month or so ago, I heard “inbox zero” mentioned. I intuitively grasped the concept and set about finding a better way to process my email that reduces my effort, stress, and mess. It’s most obvious feature is that you have zero emails in you inbox.

Now (Feb 20th) I’ve been doing this for over a month and have gotten faster and better at it. Here’s my updated system, which I call zero inbox.

Before you practice zero inbox, train Gmail to sort your messages.

  • Scan and delete the messages that don’t matter.
    • In Gmail, this includes everything in your Social and Promotions tabs.
  • Scan and read the messages that matter. Do the following and then archive these.
    • Respond briefly, if needed
    • Forward messages that require attention or action from others. Include a note saying what you want them to notice or do.
    • If writing this note takes more than a few minutes, schedule a 10-minute videoconference or call with them.
    • Make to-do tasks from messages require further action. (Don’t let yourself start working on this things now.)

When you’re done every message should be deleted or archive. Your inbox should be empty.

It helps to know what your focus/responsibilities/goals/interests are. Don’t waste time on messages that fall outside of these. Don’t get sucked into email threads that don’t concern you or your work.

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