Are you addicted to your blackberry, in love with your iPhone? Studies show that people now check email every 5 minutes. Even though we are doing a lot of “checking”, we are not really “processing” all that stuff that’s coming at us each day. This results in cluttered inboxes, things slipping through the cracks, stress, overwhelm and frustration.
Below are three proven techniques to help you take charge of your inbox and eliminate email clutter for good!
1. Apply the 4 D’s of effective email processing
- DO: If an email can be processed in two minutes or less, do it immediately.
- DELETE: If the material is trash or junk, delete it and move on.
- DEFER: If the task is one that can’t be completed quickly and is not a high priority item, simply defer it. Put it in a folder marked “To Do” or “Action Items”. If it is a newsletter or something you want to read later put it in a “To Read” folder. You can also move items directly into your calendar or To Do list. To make this process easier, check out programs such as Remember the Milk, Evernote or Tootledo.
- DELEGATE: If you can delegate the task, forward it to the right person with clear instructions on how to handle it.
Processing vs. Checking Email – we “check” e-mail on the run, on planes, trains and automobiles (hopefully not while driving) and even in the bathroom! Processing email however, i.e. using the 4Ds above requires a chunk of uninterrupted time to really focus.
The reason inboxes are so crowded is because we often take care of the quick 2 minute emails on the run, get to some of the more important items done and the rest just sits there, causing stress and that feeling of just not being on top of it al.
Avoid using your inbox as a giant receptacle that holds all your emails. Even with powerful search functions on email programs today, it is cumbersome and unwieldy to wade through thousands of emails.
Make sure to schedule uninterrupted blocks of time to process your email a couple of times per day.
Zero Inbox – Zero inbox is a very exciting concept and even more exciting to implement. It literally means to have no emails in your inbox.
When processing email (i.e. using the 4 Ds above), keep the focus on getting to zero. This will force you to make the tough decisions regarding all the stuff that’s coming at you each day. It’s the best way to take charge of your inbox and eliminate email clutter for good!
How many emails are in your inbox? Have you tried the zero inbox method? Post a comment below and let us know!