As of 9 a.m. today I had 1,400 emails in my inbox. That is actually lite compared to some of my friends. I have a friend who told me he has 30,000 emails in his inbox. Seriously! I said, “you should claim email bankruptcy“. Email bankruptcy is a thing, here’s how it works.
- Control/Command + A
- Send an email to all of you contacts saying, “I am sorry, all of my emails have been deleted. If you were waiting for a reply from me on any particular email please resend the email.”
That method is quite abrupt, and semi-permanent (very permanent if you delete your deleted folder). It’s not my preference but I’ve thought about doing this many times.
SIDE NOTE: My most productive hours of work seem to be 9-11:30am. I try to do the things that need by best attention in that chunk of time. I find that if I get weighed down with email and other simple tasks I give away the most productive portion of my day. That means I turn off notifications on both my phone and computer. Do I miss things? Sometimes. But I attribute that to other people’s poor planning not my lack of availability. I cannot be tethered to email for “just in case.”
HERE IS MY STRATEGY FOR GAINING A ZERO INBOX:
- I process email twice daily: After lunch and before I leave for the day. Dedicated time receives my full attention instead of trying to squeeze in moments.
- Response Easy: Immediately respond to any quick questions then delete.
- Response Hard: If the message needs more thought I will flag the message and follow up at a designated time (within 24 hours.)
- Deleting and Filing: I found three types of emails in my inbox; unread messages, messages that were read and no longer needed, messages read and hovering as file storage…these all needed to go!
1. New messages eventually fall into the last 2 categories) if not deleted.
2. I found that messages I replied to never got deleted. I would type a reply and then shut down the window. I need to add an extra step of deleting that message I replied to.
3. Instead of leaving files in my inbox, I now sort them to an Evernote folder or a Google Drive or Dropbox folder.
These alone helped me delete about 1,100 of those 1,400 emails.
- Reply/forward emails to someone who can help: Sometimes an email will sit in my inbox for weeks because I don’t have the time to give it attention. If it’s something I can’t handle right away or that somebody else in my ministry can answer more clearly, I’ll reply to that person and carbon copy (CC:) someone who can help and then immediately delete the message. For example, last week I received a request to use our church to host a concert. I wrote back,
“The best person to help you is Tony, he oversees facilities. If you do not hear from him this week feel free to connect with him directly, I have added him to this email.”
I am on my way to a zero inbox. I am down to 335 messages. How many messages are in your inbox?