Inbox Zero The Easy Way

by Randy Murray on September 1, 2014

My wife has over 17,000 unread messages in her personal email inbox. It’s all pretty much ads, come of them years old. It makes me a little anxious every time I catch a glimpse of her phone and that amazingly high number highlighted in red. But she’s comfortable with it and I limit myself to an occasional, “I could help you with that.” She declines my help.

I, on the other hand, maintain a zero’d out inbox as a way to achieve inner calm.

It’s not really that hard. And I find it to be very effective in keeping my anxiety levels down, especially those fears that I may be missing something.

Here’s my simple technique to keep my inbox empty.

  1. I commit that no read message can remain in my inbox.
  2. I unsubscribe from as many promotional emails as I can and immediately delete the others as I read them. It’s easier to keep your inbox empty if you receive less email.
  3. I keep an email folder called “Action” where I dump things that don’t have a clear category, and I try and review this box early each day. Keeping it empty is a nicety, but not a personal requirement.
  4. Everything else goes in the archive or in project specific folders.

That’s it. Nice and simple. When new things hit my inbox I read them and either reply, act on it in some way, put it in the Action box for later attention (or better yet, some project-related Action box for more specific tasks), or I delete it.

Boom. Inbox zero.

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