Are you overwhelmed with email but the problem is you need to read it all. You live out of your inbox because it’s the only thing you know. You can change that and get your inbox to zero. Here’s the tips you need to manage your inbox and get it under control.
If you use your inbox as a to do list you will constantly be wasting mental energy thinking about what tasks you have buried in that inbox.
If your inbox is over loaded right now don’t give up! You can get to an empty inbox.
I like to think of email as part of my system of productivity. Actually it’s a fairly essential and integral part of my system.
Emails started to overwhelm me.
I knew I needed to a system to help me get my email under control. After a lot of research, I realized the key to the system was in the processing of the email. Reading it wasn’t enough. I needed to track it, organize it and file it.
Here’s my step by step process to get to inbox zero:
- Process the email and decide what to do with it right then and there. Don’t save it for later or flag it for later decide now and don’t move on.
- Do it once every 24 hours. Yes, within every 24 hour period I want my inbox to be empty. This is my goal and I don’t always hit it. I find that I can’t let my inbox go for more than 2 days before it will overwhelm me. Setup a schedule of when to process your email and first thing when you get into the office is NOT a time to do it – click here to find out why.
- Have your productivity app ready to go when you are processing. The is an essential part of processing your email. Make sure you have a good app that you can trust. Nozbe Is my go to app.
- Archive or delete the email. Find what works for you and your organization. I recommend keeping it simple. A lot of people just dump it into a folder called archive. Let the search function find it again. Don’t be afraid to delete it. If it was that important someone else has it. When in doubt just archive it.
Now it’s time to clarify those emails.
Here’s the 3 questions I ask myself when clarifying emails:
- Ask yourself can you do this right now and in less than 2 minutes? If you can do in less than 2 minutes then David Allen recommends you do it now. He’s right, it will take longer to enter this into your system and do it later than it would to do it now.
- Ask yourself is this something that needs to get done. If yes, then by whom. Is it for you to do or for you to delegate. If it’s for you then I enter it as a task into Nozbe. If I delegate it, I send and email or call the person to describe the task. I then enter it into Nozbe as a waiting for. I also ask myself is it a project. Not sure what I mean by project – here’s a helpful post on the subject.
- Ask yourself if this is reference material. Is it needed information for a project? If so I may store it in Evernote. One great feature of Nozbe is that it links to Evernote this way I can have project notes from Evernote right in Nozbe.
It’s easy to do and you need to make the time to process and I really mean process not just read your email. It feels like a weight off my shoulders when I’m done. Keep in mind you are really never done processing email. I don’t like to think about this as being done but rather I like to think of it as just another step in the process of being productive.
It your inbox at zero? Let me know on Twitter.