If you are swamped by email and dream of having an empty inbox (without just deleting everything, of course) read on … I have a solution for you.
Having an empty inbox feels great and it can save you tons of time. Since I emptied mine (and kept it empty) I’m realising how much time I spent just looking at the titles of all the ‘pending’ emails in my inbox. Now I don’t have that distraction I have a lot more time for doing actual work – or anything else I want to do. It’s amazing!
I started at a site called 43 Folders. This is at http://www.43folders.com/izero but there is tons to read there so to save you time, I will reveal how to do this quickly, the way I did.
First, create some new folders in your email client. These are in two sections:
(a) Folders for emails requiring action:
1-Soonest (urgent, you want to take action today).
2-Later (action required sometime this week or this month).
3-Training (e.g. link to that 55 minute video on Twitter that you want to watch but never seem to find the time).
These 3 should be at the top of your list of folders so include the numbers in the folder names.
(b) Folders for filing (emails you have dealt with, or not requiring action but worth keeping):
- Useful information (e.g. a link to an interesting article that you have read and might want to read again … if you didn’t read the article yet it goes in Training)
- Purchases (emails confirming purchases or containing information about something you purchased, updates for software that you own, etc)
- Wanted (promotions for things you don’t need to get right now, but they look good and you might want them sometime)
- Websites (emails from your hosting company or domain registrar containing important information about your sites).
You will also probably want folders for keeping email from certain people, membership sites, or on certain topics. For example I have a Bum Marketing folder and a Customers folder.
After you have the folders set up, go through your inbox sorting your emails. Use the unsubscribe link for people you don’t want to hear from again. Delete anything that you don’t need to keep and
sort the others for action or file them. You will need to take a quick look at some of them but don’t click any links.
In most email clients you can speed up this process by first sorting your inbox according to sender. E.g. in Outlook, if you click on the From button it will sort them for you. Then you can very quickly delete or file all the emails from certain people.
Continue until there is not one single email in your inbox, then take action on the emails in the ‘Soonest’ folder. Remember this folder was only for things that need action TODAY.
HOW TO KEEP IT EMPTY
Schedule time, two or three times each day, when you deal with email. In that time, look first at your new mail and sort it so that the inbox is empty. Then open up your ‘Soonest’ folder and deal with them all or as many as you have time for, so that they can be deleted or filed. Then move on to ‘Later’ or ‘Training’ – you can pick.
Each email requiring action will be opened a maximum of two times: once to sort it and once to deal with it. Emails not requiring action are read and either deleted or filed immediately.
I had about 250 ‘pending’ emails in my inbox when I did this … and I was already dealing with the urgent ones and filing or deleting everything I could. I now have about 40 in ‘Training’ and 10 in ‘Later’. The rest are filed or gone
The good news is that the system *does* work. Unlike previous times when I have cleared my inbox, now it is emptied every time I look at my email. Sometimes I STILL have an empty inbox when I next look at it. It’s spooky!
Filed under: Personal development