Let me ask you something.
What number are you seeing next to Inbox right now?
How does that number make you feel?
Time to learn about Inbox Zero – a simple method that can transform your inbox from a place you dread and ignore to a helpful companion in meeting your commitments without delay.
As the name suggests, the idea of Inbox Zero is to regularly clean your inbox down to zero messages. This minimizes your risk of missing new incoming messages, and it should make you feel much better about emailing in general.
If you’re one of many people whose inbox is filled with >1K unread messages, here’s how I recommend you take care of it.
- Find every email that is older than a month and unread. In Gmail, all you have to do is type is:unread in the Gmail search bar and select Older than a month under the dropdown menu item named Anytime.
- Select every email and mark it read.
- Archive every email in this selection.
The assumption here is that everything you haven’t opened in over a month is probably not important enough or has expired anyways. Pick a different time window if you’re more comfortable with that. After performing these steps, your inbox should look a lot less obese already.
With what’s left, I recommend combing through it manually and asking yourself these questions:
- Do I need to respond to it? If yes, type one letter in the response and leave it. This’ll automatically create a list of draft emails that you can finish later.
- Do I need to read it? If yes, I recommend forwarding them to your to-do app as part of your reading list. On my YouTube channel, you can find lots of tutorials on this for most apps. If you can’t or don’t want to use one of these apps, you could create a label within Gmail named ‘Read’ and apply it.
- Do I need to save this as reference material? If yes, I recommend forwarding them to your reference app as a non-actionable piece of information. Alternatively, you could mark these emails with a star to indicate they contain important information.
Archive any email whose answer after you’ve performed any of these steps on them. For any email that is just trash, delete it.
Actionable advice for this week: take your inbox to zero.
Do it mindfully; you should feel good after having done it. From there on out, embrace inbox zero as a process. Find the right rhythm based on your volume and urgency with emails. For me, doing it once a day works well. If you’re in sales, you may need to do it more often. If you email a little, you may get by just once a week.