Taking control of all the information coming to you is the best thing you can do for your productivity. The Inbox Zero method may be the ideal solution. Let’s take a look at what it is and how to implement it.
What is Inbox Zero?
Inbox Zero is an email management system created by productivity expert Merlin Mann. The inbox zero method was originally invented and is often used just to keep emails in order. However, experts argue that the effects of this method will be better seen if it is applied to all the information that comes to us – letters, ideas, thoughts and tasks.
Inbox Zero step by step
1. Clean out your inbox
So, when adopting the Inbox Zero method, you must act decisively. Open your inbox, select all the read messages that have accumulated there and archive them. This will seem like pure madness to some, but it’s the best approach.
2. Process your emails in chronological order
To develop this useful habit, you will need some discipline. When processing your e-mails, start with the oldest message and move on to the newest. This way you will maintain chronological order and not get confused.
Gmail has two features that will make this task easier for you:
- Turn on the automatic transition feature. To do this, open “Settings” >”Advanced”, find the “Auto-pass” item and activate it. Now, when you reply to an email or archive it, Gmail will not return to your inbox view, but will display the next thread.
Activate the “Send and archive” function. To do this, go to “Settings” > “General” and check “Show ‘Send and archive’ button in reply.”
- Also avoid using mail like a chat room. There is nothing worse than creating long chains of replies of constantly quoted emails.
The main principle of the Inbox Zero method is that your inbox is not a place to store mail. All emails should be processed immediately. Read them one by one, reply if necessary, and archive them.
But what if you can’t respond right away? You have two options:
Save the email in an application such as Evernote, OneNote or a task manager. Set a date for the program to remind you to write a response at the right time.
If you can write a reply right away, but the addressee should receive it later, use the delayed email function.
4. Just do it!
If a message requires an action that will take a few minutes, just do it. Don’t copy the email to your task list and leave it in your inbox. If you need to make a payment, just make it now. If you need to send feedback to a colleague, send it right away. If it takes a few minutes to process, there’s no point in putting it off.
To improve your email processing, use the filters, labels and keyboard shortcuts that are available in Gmail.
5. Inbox is empty? Close your mail!
When you’re trying to concentrate on work, you can’t be constantly distracted by emails. So we stick to the rule: when your inbox is empty, close the mail window and get on with your next task. Also, turn off all incoming email notifications – they are very distracting. After a few hours, look in the inbox and process new messages.
main photo: unsplash.com/Solen Feyissa