It’s possible that email is the worst invention ever. Worse even than Sauna Pants. Although at $29.99, I’m kind of tempted?
Sorry got distracted there – we were talking about email yes?
Time sucking, unimportant nonsense clutters up our inboxes on a daily basis. Hours and hours are spent dealing with a steady influx of “what do you think of this”, and “what do you think of that”?
Most email doesn’t need to be sent.
Do you really need to copy me on your update about the meeting I wasn’t at, with meeting notes I’m not going to read? It’s not that I don’t care, but it’s just…..well I don’t care.
Email has hitched itself to our lives like an inflamed case of genital herpes, and most of us don’t know which cream to use to calm it down.
But it’s okay. I’ve got the cream.
MERLIN MANN IS YOUR FRIEND
Inbox zero is the idea that you can “reclaim your email, your attention and your life”. The “zero” is not about how many emails are in your inbox, but as Merlin says:
“It’s about how much of your brain is in the inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be”.
Your time is precious.
If you recognise that you have an email overload problem, stop reading this post right now. Instead, grab a cup of tea and sit down for the next 60 minutes in front of the video embedded below.
If video is not your thing, dive into the extended blog series instead.
As you work your way through the series, a system of dealing with the daily email deluge will reveal itself. Tips like how to use the delete key (hint: all the time!), templates, scheduled time and much more.
If you apply the concepts in a consistent way each day, something truly special will happen. You will find yourself controlling your inbox, rather than the other way around.
I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ ALL THAT
Okay you’re time poor (too much email?), and you’re not going to wade through a 60 minute video and a series of blog posts just to hit email zen.
I think you should, but you won’t. I get it.
For those of you after the TLDR version, here is my personal and work email flow in 4 simple steps.
1. Filter your inbox by date
Is there anything older than 2 weeks? If yes, delete them. Don’t read them, don’t respond to them, just delete them. This is called an “email reset”, and you’ll thank me for it later.
(hint: If it is important, they will email you again!).
2. Read the email
Does it need a response? If no, delete that sucker.
(hint: Many more emails than you might think do not require a response)
3. Can you respond in under 3 minutes?
If yes, respond and delete that sucker. If no, schedule the task somewhere on your existing to-do list (you have one right?), then archive the email somewhere else.
(pro tip: Your inbox is not a task manager, nor is it a checklist!)
4. Delete that sucker.
Once you have completed the task (according to YOUR schedule), feel free to delete. Delete, delete, delete.
You will not truly appreciate how effective this process is until you try it for a fortnight.
Remember – inbox zero is not about the number of emails in your inbox, but how much of your “brain space” you can actually win back.