The ultimate way to get to inbox zero
In our chase for productivity, we are ready to do all kinds of stunts. How many times you’ve googled the words „how to boost productivity at work“? Or you might have been looking for some tips on how to boost productivity using technology. We want so much to be faster and to be everywhere at once. We want to succeed without sacrificing our sleep, personal life and our health. But is it really possible?
Over the months we gave you numerous examples on ways to boost your productivity at work. But seems like this one we’re talking about today surpasses them all. Yes, we’re talking about Inbox zero.
What’s the deal with Inbox zero?
Inbox Zero is a concept made by productivity expert Merlin Mann. Many people think that reference „zero“ means you should have zero emails in your inbox, but it actually doesn’t mean that. It’s actually about how many times employees brain is in the inbox. That’s why the primary goal is to keep your inbox empty, or as empty as it can be. In Mann’s opinion, we tend to lose ourselves in the full inbox. Mann suggests five possible actions for each email you get. You can delete it, delegate it, respond to it, defer it and do it.
What statistics have to say about it?
It’s no wonder Marlin Mann highlighted the advantages of an empty inbox. Turns out that by some statistics as much as 62% of the emails an average inbox gets is unnecessary. And you need some time to recover from them as well! By the Danwood Group’s research, it takes us up to 64 seconds to recover from an email interruption and return to work with the same tempo.
If you feel your productivity is lacking, you might give a shot to trying the inbox zero strategies. And we’re going to provide you with few ways on how to do it.
If you want to achieve inbox zero, try to automate the process
There’s nothing wrong in trying to use technology in cleaning up your inbox. And what we’re suggesting is not even complicated. You can use filtering to prioritise your numerous emails. Try using spam filters, as well as unsubscribing and blacklisting to shorten your existing email list. The ones who get to survive the cleaning will be definitely more important than the deleted ones, and it will take you much less time to go through them than usual.
Next step is to try to prioritise your emails
Successful people know the power of prioritising. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most important steps towards being more productive. Not everything in life is a top priority, and not every email needs your immediate response. To achieve inbox zero, and after you filter your inbox, try ordering them by priority. One of the useful tactics for that is to flag the most important ones and leave some space to attend to them. Just make sure you don’t forget to respond to them.
„Unread“ is the king of mastering emails
It’s so easy to forget about an email once you open it and fail to respond to it immediately. There are many ways for dealing with this like making separate folders or flagging them, however, what proved to be the best solution is to simply mark them unread until you have some time to deal with it.
If you want to achieve inbox zero, leave some space for newsletters
Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways businesses get to promote their services, offers and products. Every one of us here in Vacation tracker is subscribed to at least dozens of them. We downloaded some ebooks, and we end up on the subscriber’s list. Newsletters are a great way to stay updated with what’s happening in the world and in the niche we are working in. They are useful, but boy, they know to clutter our inbox. You don’t have to unsubscribe to achieve inbox zero. Instead, try making a separate folder for them to be more productive throughout the day. And when you have enough time to read them, you will have them in one spot.
Don’t check your inbox all the time
Being neat and tidy is cool; however constant checking of your inbox will more harm your productivity then left jammed with emails. Make some schedule when it comes to checking emails too! And once you determine your checking schedule stick to it and don’t open it until the time comes.
Use the alternatives
Obtaining email communication is often necessary; however, there are great alternatives to email communication such as Slack is. It will help you obtain necessary communication at a minimum and leave your inbox cleared.
Labelling your emails will make your goal towards inbox zero more achievable than ever. This is just because it enables you to have a clear picture of what’s in it. For instance, you can make the emails related to one project in one colour, and for the others to make them in another colour. This way you will find them in a faster and easier way and ultimately be more productive.
You don’t have to delete them once you’ve read them
Like we’ve said in the beginning some emails are bound to go in a trash bin. However, you don’t have to delete your whole inbox altogether. There can be situations in which you will need some email even if you already replied. In everyday work, there is always room for misunderstandings, and you will need some email to sort the situation out. Make some folders to organise them; inbox zero is never about hitting the delete button.
Make your inbox a to-do list
We already mentioned the importance of prioritising in a quest for achieving higher productivity. To-do lists are a great way to prioritise the tasks you need to do, and there’s not a single reason why you shouldn’t treat your inbox as a to-do list. Some of them you can flag, the others should be scheduled as reminders.
Set out of the office notifications
This might be a bit controversial; however, it can do the job. In the article where we discussed how to fight the first days at work after the vacation, we suggested this strategy as a coping mechanism to get into a work groove. But it turns out, the same goes when you’re trying to be more productive. If you feel your emails are stopping you from task completion and making you less productive, try setting them out of the office message. The people who can do without your help will find their way out, and the ones who really need you will reach out to you by the alternative methods you’ve indicated in an email.
In the end…
We have to ask one question: what are we ready to do in our quest towards greater productivity? It seems like we’re already doing too much to make ourselves faster and more efficient. However, it’s hard to keep pace with the speed of life the modern era brought to us. Inbox zero might be one, among many, solutions which aim to make us do more work in less time. But before you try to try out this strategy make sure you’ve covered the basics. Make sure you get enough sleep, to exercise and eat properly. When you made sure you’ve done everything to stay good try out these strategies.
A cat enthusiast and a cupcake maniac, Ana is a freelance Content Writer passionate about HR, productivity, and team management topics. When she’s not at her keyboard, you can find Ana in the kitchen, trying to make delicious cookies.