Have you heard of “Inbox Zero” before? It’s a term used to indicate clearing out your inbox until you have zero emails left. That means absolutely none – no unread emails, no already read emails that you’ve saved for later – zero! Sounds like a dream, right? Does such a thing actually exist?
Of course it does! Here are some email organizing tips from the Professional Organizer in NYC to achieve that infamous Inbox Zero.
Touch it once. How often do you read an email and then leave it sitting in your inbox, even if it requires no further action from you? You save time by making decisions when you first open an email. Decide right away if this email requires action from you. If it doesn’t, then file it away in the appropriate folder or delete it entirely. If you do need to take action, then do it immediately or move it into a folder to work on later. Add tasks to a task management system or to-do list instead of keeping action emails in your inbox. And remember, many emails can be deleted without even opening them!
Use those folders. We have talked about setting up folders and filters before (link), and that is an important step in achieving Inbox Zero. Having filters in place that move emails directly into folders leaves your inbox clear for emails you need to read. Having a clear folder system established means that you can quickly go through your inbox and move emails to the appropriate folder without much thought. This saves you time, and also allows you to easily find emails you may need later.
Establish an email checking schedule. Achieving Inbox Zero sounds like you’ll have to be glued in front of your screen all day long, right? It’s not necessary! Depending on your business, you may need to check email more often, but you typically can schedule a time once or twice a day that you designate as email time. During that time frame, focus on your email. You don’t have to read every single thing that comes into your inbox. Do a quick sweep and immediately delete anything that you don’t need to read (such as promotions or spam). Close out of your other browsers and tabs so you aren’t distracted.
So, is Inbox Zero realistic in today’s email-centric world? It sure can be! It may require you to be ruthless and to make quick decisions, but it absolutely can be done. Is it for everyone? Certainly not, but there are some benefits to attempting to reach Inbox Zero every day. You’ll be more efficient with your responses, you won’t miss any important actions that need to be taken, and you won’t feel overwhelmed when you open your inbox the next morning. The Professional Organizer urges you to give Inbox Zero a try and see if it works for you!