Whenever I tell people that I've decided to practice "inbox zero" they say one of four things (or some combination of all four):
1. "That is so 2007". (And they even give me a link to a 2007 Merlin Mann Google Tech Talk to prove it).
2. "You clearly don't have enough work to do".
3. "There is no way that I could possibly do inbox zero. I have way too many e-mails, and I use my inbox as my outboard memory system".
4. "I've been inbox zero for years. I'm never going back".
For those of you, like me, for which the concept of inbox zero is sort of new (how did we miss this?) - the idea of inbox zero is to do one of 5 things with every e-mail:
It is okay to keep e-mails in folders. And it is okay to mark those e-mails for follow-up. What is not okay is to let e-mails pile up.
The challenge is to set some time aside everyday and go completely through your inbox, taking one of the five actions listed above.
I've been inbox zero for a couple of months now, and I have to say I really like it.
Like you, I receive a debilitating number of e-mail messages. Almost all of my communication and much of my work is managed through e-mail. And the pace and volume of e-mail is only increasing.
Without a system to manage all the e-mail it is incredibly easy to slip into a reactive e-mail mode, handling whatever message that came in last rather than attending to the messages and projects that should be the highest priority.
This method has helped to get me out of the need to respond instantly to e-mail. Instead, I can structure my time around my Task list (I use the Outlook Tasks), checking things off as I go.
Are you an inbox zero devotee?
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