Ahh the purpetually growing inbox that seemingly beguiles us all. In this post, Ethan Banks runs down how he’s trying to get to the legendary Inbox Zero nirvana.
At various times I’ve tried to wrangle my own personal email hell. Mostly it’s when for either work or personal reasons I start a new inbox. I promise myself that I’m not going to let that inbox get out of hand. I assiduously delete and archive that inbox, and it’s empty by the end of every day. Except when I start forgetting to do that, I start using it for newsletter sign ups, and it ends up being the typical inbox morass I’ve created in every other instance.
Ethan has some pretty typical steps to try and get to Inbox Zero. Unsubscribing to lists and not putting off messages is nothing new. But there are a few that were new to me.
The most interesting one is not responding to messages unless necessary. I remember in college a professor stressing out over the social obligations that email implies. He took issue that social etiquette required constant replies to thank people for sending things over, and that this enjoined the other party to reply as well. I had never thought of breaking this chain as a way to be more productive in your inbox, but it makes total sense.
The other nugget of advice I always need reminding of is that the inbox is not a task management tool. Slack has largely taken over as my misappropriated task management tool, but the temptation is always there. I remember when I was a heavy Outlook user, I lived in an crowded inbox defined by various flags for task management. As such I could never get to Inbox Zero.
I don’t know if Inbox Zero will ever be a big enough priority for me to really get there. But rules like Ethan layed out are a good place to start.
Ethan Banks comments:
I’ve recently admitted to myself that my ineptitude with my inbox is due largely to procrastination. That is, I can’t face the task that a particular inbox message presents, and thus I ignore the message. With this admission comes a desire to reach inbox zero each and every day. I don’t like my productivity squashed by ineptitude. I must overcome!
Read more at: Postpone Inbox Procrastination