Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about this illustrious unicorn of an inbox state called ‘Inbox Zero’. To me, this was the thing of dreams and something only the most time-wealthy, organised (obsessive) people were capable of. For those not in the know; ‘inbox zero’ is a relatively new (or maybe just more recently trending) methodology formulated in 2009…
Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about this illustrious unicorn of an inbox state called ‘Inbox Zero’. To me, this was the thing of dreams and something only the most time-wealthy, organised (obsessive) people were capable of.
For those not in the know; ‘inbox zero’ is a relatively new (or maybe just more recently trending) methodology formulated in 2009 by Productivity expert Merlin Mann as a way of “reclaiming your email, your attention and your life.” (Yes! Give me some of that…!)
The process entails starting each day with zero emails in your inbox and finishing each day with the same. Not sure about you, but as of yesterday at 11am I had roughly in the region of 2200 emails in my inbox! Eeek!
Being in the recruitment industry you can imagine how many emails come into my inbox each day (each hour…each minute..!). This industry tends to foster magpie-like tendencies in people; being torn in so many different directions at once with emails flying through the door all day. This will be a familiar feeling for many.
I finally realised it was an area in my life that was actually causing me quite a lot of stress not to mention a major time-waster! Time wasted looking for emails, waiting for my inbox to load, re-reading old emails and subject lines, being pulled from high-focus tasks constantly, not to mention time wasted with the general cognitive overload!
I’d been putting it off for quite a while; I think a mixture of a perceived lack of time, (funny; as this will in turn SAVE me time!) not knowing where to start and I’m sure some good old fashioned procrastination; should have re-read an earlier blog I wrote on that HERE!
Anyhow, I attended a really interesting webinar the other day with Peter Moriarty from itGenious and something just clicked; it was time to tackle this issue and reclaim a couple hours of my life back each day!
So last night; I gave myself 40 minutes of after-hours; life-reclaiming focus… Here’s how I did it.
4 Hacks to Hitting INBOX ZERO:
This was one of the most productive pieces for me; it literally scraped over 1000 emails out of my inbox. Start by running a search in your inbox for ‘Unsubscribe’. This will produce all emails in your inbox that are subscription based emails; rather than real people, conversation based emails.
Once you get a feel for how many you have; you can do one of two things; 1. Set up a rule that designates all of these emails (containing the word ‘unsubscribe’) to a designated folder upon coming into your inbox OR 2. use one of the below tools to mass-unsubscribe from the lot.
I used a bit of a combination tactic on this. A lot of these subscriptions are work based and really interesting (but only interesting when I have the time to review). The others are from shops I’ve ordered a sweater online from three years ago – probably don’t need more shopping lures in my life! Ha.
Check out the below for some helpful tools:
2. RULE YOUR INBOX
This follows the same idea as the first however it’s designating rules for any otherregular mail you may receive; this goes for any affiliations, memberships, or regularly occurring notifications you may want to keep separate from your general ‘unsubscribe’ NEWS folder.
This one keeps things really well organised and allows you to designate blocks of time throughout your day to check and action these folders; rather than being constantly pulled in and out of your day to attend to them.
The best part of course is they never hit your inbox and are automatically filed. This is something I was half-committed to, prior to the ‘inbox zero’ initiative. Now I have rules for every regularly occurring mail and already feel more in control.
3. BE OKAY with “DELETE” or “ARCHIVE”
This one has always been tricky for me. I really struggle to press the delete button; it triggers this ‘never to be seen or found again even in the worst emergency’ feeling for me. Owning my own business I want to be able to go back to re-trace emails, any correspondence from a client should ALWAYS be on file and available to me…! God forbid it’s landed in the ‘Delete’ folder.
If you’re using outlook this function is well and truly called ‘Delete’ but in Gmail it’s a little more digestible; it’s called ‘Archive’. The truth is, these emails will still be recalled and get auto-archived anyhow so it’s really not the end of the world; just do it. Empower yourself to HIT DELETE!
4. CREATE CATEGORIES
This is another good one and really relevant for me. It more so addresses my ability to maintain inbox zero in the long run. It allows for a bit of a ‘working inbox’ method of organisation. It divides your inbox into certain categories; ie Action, Follow Up, To Do, For VA etc. Whatever suits your working style.
- To learn how to create categories, Follow-Up features and Quick Steps in Outlook click Here:
- If you’re using Gmail click Here for categories and other great optimising tricks:
** For another cool little tool, check out Yesware.com this is more of a bonus hack for you– it’s great for organising your tasks and follow ups, creating email templates and tracking open rates!
Well that’s that. These should at least get you started and allow you to bring yourself to a fresh and reinvigorated state of ‘inbox zero’.Now it’s about sticking to some pretty tough inbox “rules of engagement” and we should be well on our way to the blissful state of long-term inbox zero life..!