Inbox zero means getting your email inbox to zero emails once a day. I was in the bad habit of using my inbox as a To-Do list, but that's just asking for trouble. Something is bound to be overlooked using this method, plus an inbox full of emails just feels like a brain drain. On the other hand, an updated To-Do list and inbox zero feels refreshing and more manageable. Read below to find out where I started, how long it took, the steps I took to get there, and how I plan to stay at inbox zero.
1,603 total emails
An hour and a half
- Begin by searching for your highest frequency emails using your email search feature. When pages of emails from that sender come up as a search result, put them all straight into an appropriate folder, or delete them as the case may be. For instance, my biggest email sender is my sister, Beth Anne. When I did a search for emails from Beth Anne, 11 pages came up. Any emails prior to Podcast launch I simply put in a folder labeled Amateur Naturalist, because most likely those communications from her related to our Etsy shop. Any emails after Podcast launch probably relate to that, so I just selected those emails and placed them in a Brilliant Business Moms folder.
- Continue the same process for any recurring emails.
- Make sure you have your To-Do List by your side while you are working on inbox zero. If an email must be dealt with, write it down on your To-Do List. I also made a folder called To-Do for anything I would need to reference in the near future. Only put emails in a To-Do folder if they are actually ON your To-Do list!
- I went ahead and deleted any emails that I had saved from my favorite blogs. If I need to find that recipe or home project again, I can just search on the blog for it.
- Make folders for anything you want to keep: mortgage documents, kids sports, taxes, etc. Don't skimp on the number of folders, don't read the emails, you can tell by the sender what they are about, just get them into a folder or delete them.
- Hopefully after you've searched for your most frequent email senders and dealt with them accordingly, you won't have too many emails left. Scan each page and you should be able to delete pages at a time after a quick scan to make sure nothing important needs to go to a folder.
- Don't be distracted, just keep working until you are done. It will feel so great to have the mess of your inbox defeated and put in its place!
Staying at Inbox Zero:
- All the experts recommend that you only check email a few times a day.
- When you check your email, make sure you have time to deal with it right then, and don't forget to bring your to do list with you when you check email.
- Don't treat your inbox like a To-Do list, actually use a To-Do list. I've been making my To-Do lists by month, then week, then day as recommended by the book Eat That Frog (also available as an audio book from Audible) which I discussed in Episode 11.
- I'm trying to restrict email checking to 3x a day and closing it for the rest of the day. This is tough to do, but important! It's a work in progress for me.
- Unsubscribe to any email lists that you don't want to receive anymore.
–Pat Flynn Podcast Episode 115 on Inbox Zero has a resource PDF in his show notes with some tools for getting to and staying at inbox zero.
Get your inbox to zero, and let me know how it goes! Comment with any tips you have for staying at inbox zero!
P.S. For more great advice on time management and productivity for busy moms, check out our book, Time Management Mama: Making use of the Margins to Pursue your Passions.