Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your email inbox 🙋🏻♀️ I have. Seeing the number of new messages can feel overwhelming, and instead of getting actual work done, you spend your precious time sifting through ’em all.
I’ve come across a new (to me, and maybe you) approach to email management, and I’m here to tell you, it’s goood.
Introducing Inbox Zero.
Basically, Inbox Zero is an email management method that aims to keep your inbox empty – or as close to empty as possible – at all times. It’s pretty rigorous, but once you get into the swing of things it frees up some mind space and boosts productivity.
According to Inbox Zero’s creator, Merlin Mann, the “zero” in the title refers to both the number of emails in your inbox and the amount of time you spend thinking about your email inbox. Wouldn’t that be nice?
To implement this method into your business (and personal life, really), it requires a few simple steps. Following these steps – and sticking to them – should keep things much more manageable for you on a regular basis.
Okay, so there are a few things you’ve got to do first before we get into sorting out those emails. Your immediate to-do list includes:
Not too bad, right? Once you’ve gotten those things taken care of, it’s time to start organizing.
To sort all of your incoming messages, you’re going to create four new folders.
Does this email require action from you? Does it contain information that you need to keep or refer back to in the future? If it’s a no to both, then go ahead and delete that baby right away. You don’t need it, and you really don’t need it to sit there forever taking up space.
If the email does require action, are you the only person for the job? Or are you able to let a team member handle the response? If a team member can effectively respond and take care of the action item, then it’s time to forward it to that person. Once it’s in their inbox, delete it from yours!
If the email does require action from YOU, and you’re able to respond quickly and efficiently, go ahead and get it done. Craft a response (ideally in a few short and sweet sentences) and then delete or archive the message. Once it’s sent, it’s out of your head. Move on to the next message in your inbox.
If you need more than a few minutes to respond to the email, it may be one to defer. You may need to write a longer response, find other information, or organize files to along with your response. If that’s the case, flag the email or sort it into your “defer” folder. Then you can come back to the message when you’ve set aside time to do so. Until then, it’s out of sight and out of mind.
As with any method, heck no it’s not right for everyone. This method may be PERFECT for my type-A friends out there, but not right for someone that struggles with rigidity. However, I think this method is extremely adaptable and you can figure out your own spin to make it work for you.
Something that may help is to create email filters that automatically sort your incoming messages, or you might want to create different folders. No matter how you customize the process, focus on cutting down your time looking through your inbox and instead focus on your more pressing tasks. The messages will still be there when you get back!
Have you ever tried the Inbox Zero method? Or have you created your own strategy for managing your email inbox? Let me know in the comments!