Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping your inbox empty – or almost empty – at all times. Inbox Zero was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann and requires you to change your mind set when you look at your inbox think delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.
As a young professional, especially those who have just started out, its easy to treat each email the same however not all emails are created equal ( refer to , the Pareto Principle as it holds true here: 20% of our emails will consume 80% of our focus.)
Delete – If a message requires no action on your behalf, archive it immediately and get rid of that shit because you don’t want it distracting you.
Delegate – If it can be answered by someone else, then forward that on but don’t take the piss and just forward everything, which brings me nicely to….
Respond – If a message requires a simple reply that you can knock out in a minute or less, respond right then and there.
Defer – If a message requires some level of thought or response that you can’t get to right away, snooze it to a time and date when you will be able to handle it—whether it’s later that same day, sometime the following week, or on a Friday two months down the road. That’ll get the message out of your way so it doesn’t serve as a constant source of distraction. And then it will reappear and grab your attention when the time is right.
Do – if the task can be completed in two minutes then you should do that shit right away. For example, a colleague asking for a document or asking for a survey to be done.
These are the main principles of inbox zero but Inbox zero isn’t just about reaching zero and organising your inbox but is also about managing your emails in the most efficient way to get through as many emails as possible.
Inbox zero is as much about effectively organising your time to deal with emails as it is changing your mind set on approaching email management.
If you deal with emails on a one to one basis then you are dealing with emails in the most productivity-stupid manner possible.
Batching is a time management skill, to set aside an intentional amount of time to work on tasks and to block out the distractions that can break your focus. This productivity tip, “batching” and emails go together like cookies and cream, they’re a pair that work so well together, they put Ant & Dec to shame. By dealing with email less frequently, there is evidence that there is a reduction in stress which again, allowed them to be more efficient and effective with their time.
How often have you been distracted by an email noti-fuckation during the day and you click on it as soon as you get it, then bam, you’ve lost 20 minutes replying to emails but worst yet you’ve lost even more time than 20 minutes on the task you were doing before, as it will take you time getting back into the task you were doing before. Keep doing that 10 times a day and you will do shit, you may feel like you’ve done work but take a look at your to do list and let that tell you.
Above is a sweet af picture from Tim Ferris that shows this in a visual lay out. In simple terms, the less time you spend doing emails the more time for doing work that will get you known. Lastly, know when to batch as emails are genuinely quite brainless activities so don’t go using up your peak energy and pick your email batching times wisely.