In my article Take Charge of Your Inbox; Eliminate Email Clutter for Good I discussed the concept of Zero Inbox. I’ve gotten such a huge response the zero inbox idea that I’m following up with it here. People yearn for a zero inbox just as they long for an uncluttered life but the problem is they just don’t know how to get it. Today I want to share with you exactly what a zero inbox is, how to get to zero and lastly one secret that will change your relationship to email FOREVER!
What is a Zero Inbox?
A zero inbox means zero email in your inbox, zip, zilch, nada! Does this mean that you’ve answered each request, read every newsletter, RSVP’d to every invitation, paid the ebill that just came in? Not exactly – it simply means that you’ve made a conscious decision on whether you are going to give this item more of your energy and time.
I first got the idea of a zero inbox from David Allen who developed the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. He pioneered the idea of getting “everything out of your head and into a trusted system” and in this case out of your inbox and into a trusted system. Allen’s system requires a “capture tool” – somewhere to collect similar types of information, objects or tasks. Capture tools work equally well for physical, mental and electronic clutter. For zeroing out an inbox, folders like “To Do” or “To Read” are an excellent capture tool.
Zero to Zen – Getting to Zero Inbox
If you currently have thousands of emails in your inbox it’s going to take some time to get to zero. Give yourself a solid 2 to 3 hours for the first round.
- Use the 4 D’s – Process the last 2 weeks of emails.
- Declutter – Sort and purge – Use the search function to identify emails that you definitely don’t want or need. Delete them right away. It will feel so good to empty out the trash can. Be especially diligent in deleting emails that have negative energy.
- Use Folders as Capture Tools – Search for emails you’ll want to keep (to do items, reference, to read etc.) Create folders and move the emails into the folders.
- Archive – Once you’ve decluttered and organized your important emails into folders – Move everything else into a folder marked “Archives”or just “Emails”. Make sure to date the folder for reference. You can always use the search function to find what you need in seconds so there’s no need to keep all those emails in your inbox.
- Zero out daily – Use the 4Ds (Do, Delete, Defer, Delegate) to zero out your inbox daily!
If you are used to having thousands of emails in your inbox, a zero inbox could be a bit scary, leave you feeling vulnerable even. It did for me when I switched to the zero inbox method, but don’t worry. What I’m going to teach you next will help allay that fear and change your relationship to email for good!
Email Clutter = Deferred Decision
Here’s the secret – clutter, whether it’s physical, electronic or mental, represents a “deferred decision.” If you have email clutter and are in email overload, you may be deferring decisions, some minor but possibly some major ones as well.
To deal with all the information coming at us each day, it’s important to be able to make decisions about what goes, what stays and what’s going to get more of our attention. In essence – what’s important to us and how we prioritize things in our lives.
When you make this paradigm shift and look at your inbox as a series of decision you need to make, it actually becomes very empowering. So try it!
Zero out your inbox and let us know how you did. Post a comment below!
Let us know how you do. Post a comment below!