I’m not joking when I say “zero inbox.” Note, this screen shot lasted for about 3 minutes before another email came in.
You have to work at it each and every day.
The rules are simple. Every time an email comes in, make the following decision.
- This email is junk. Delete it.
- This email is informational. You read it once and are done with it. Delete it. This includes useful things like, “The build server will be taken offline for two hours tonight so upgrades can be installed.” That’s nice to know. Next, please.
- This email is informational and relevant. Add some helpful tags to your
email. Do not use folders. Folders only work when only one thing applies.
But what if something is both a
Receiptand belongs to
Client X? It needs two tags. Archive it.
- Handle the stuff you can handle the moment it comes in. When you’re done with it, reply, tag it, and move it to Archive.
- Anything that you can’t handle gets put into the Follow Up folder. The Follow Up folder is your main work queue. When you done with an item, move it to the Archive.
We all know that you have to make this decision with every piece of mail that you receive. You can either choose to (a) make these decisions one time or (b) make these decisions every time you open your Inbox and start sifting through your mail. If you delay this decision process, then you are just creating a project for yourself when it comes time to find that one important thing.
But Jarrett, I still have too much email!
If you’re doing the above and still have too much email, then here are few other things you need to look into.
- Email is not an instant chat client. At Fusion Alliance, we use HipChat. You can create groups and have one-on-one chatrooms. It’s wonderful.
- Email in not a file sharing service. But tools like Dropbox, BTSync, OneDrive, Cloud Drive, SharePoint, and many others are, in fact, file sharing services. Create a folder to share with your clients, project team, or whatever, and put all common documents there. Also, your network administrators will thank you for getting rid of all those giant attachments.
- Use those Unsubscribe links. Find yourself deleting the same junk over and over again? Maybe take steps to slow the junk.
- Use mail rules to your advantage. This can be especially helpful with automatically adding those tags that we discussed earlier or deleting stuff that you know is garbage.
- Quit it! If you are drowning in email, then you are probably one of the most unproductive, unreliable, unprepared employees at your job. If you say, “I have too much email to deal with,” then someone like me hears, “I spend all my time switching context and jumping from one fire to the next.” Seriously, this warrants a discussion with the appropriate parties. No one can be effective under that kind of stress. Sometimes, you’ve got to stand up for you!
I can do it, and so can you!