Do you have an addiction to being connected to your e mails, and to the illusion of being busy dealing with them at the expense of other more important stuff?
Don’t let it take over your working day
Your inbox is packed full of potentially “exciting information” to distract you. But checking too often can become a daily disease. Turn off the sounds and graphics so that you only visit your inbox when you’re ready to, not every time something new comes in.
Your inbox is not your to-do list
Your inbox is nothing more than a holding pen for where new inputs land. Often, we try to keep emails in our inbox because we don’t want to lose them, or we want to come back to them. Using your inbox as your primary to-do list reminder is not the answer – it always means that tasks from elsewhere get missed. Do you e mail yourself a lot with reminders too?
Process your emails
Make processing your e mails simple. When you open your inbox, switch your mind-set from simply checking what’s new to making decisions and creating the momentum needed to move those emails to where they need to go. To get it out of your inbox, there needs to be an obvious next step – file stuff away in folders! – Or you will only come back to read it again next time you visit your inbox.
Achieving inbox zero
YOU can clear out your inbox with a bit of hard work and determination, using this three-stage approach:
Create three processing folders in your inbox called: @Action, @Read and @Waiting. Using the ‘@’ symbol before each word ensures that these are at the top of your inbox folder structure. Then, tidy up your email folders so that they all fit onto one screen, which will mean that you won’t have to scroll up and down so much when you’re filing your emails.
To get your inbox to zero, you’ll need to be comfortable with using the delete button more regularly. Remember that at least 80% of your emails do not require any significant action, so you can be pretty ruthless, but not reckless. Consider opening folders as you would do in filing cabinet either by name or by process / subject.
Start with your really old emails, where no action is required, move them all into their reference folder or if they have no specific home into a sundry / general folder… Even better hit the delete button if it is no longer needed.
Apply the two-minute rule: anything that can be fired off in less than two minutes should be dealt with immediately, rather than storing in a folder.
With an empty inbox, you can manage future emails easily and free up your mind to focus on other tasks. It can also help to set up filters and rules to automatically file regular messages – such as mailshots and notifications from social media – to view later. And try to turn off your email when you need to concentrate so that you won’t be constantly distracted by new messages coming in.