Zero Inbox: The Power of a Fresh Start

Emails keep arriving, reports keep dropping, and things to do keep multiplying. Ann insatiable cacophony of “Do! Do! Do!”

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Most of us are feeling that we have way too much to do and too little time in which to do it. I keep hoping that somehow the right technique, the right method or the right programme will move my inbox to zero, my desk trays to empty, and my latest to-do-list to all checked off. All in vain.

Then I turn to Christianity and, to my unutterable and indescribable delight, I encounter the rare and refreshing works: “It is finished!” Are there any happier words in the universe?  No, however, recognize that God created you to be productive. Therefore we should seek after living and working productively because this is important to God.

There are many individuals who never delete emails. These individuals believe that dealing with folders and worrying about what to delete is a waste of time and that Inbox Zero should be left in the 90s. Therefore, having a zero inbox is still largely seen as the Holy Grail of the digital age.

What is Inbox Zero?

Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. It’s aimed at keeping the inbox empty or at least partially empty and reducing the amount of time you are preoccupied with email, to the extent to which your inbox weighs on your mind. It only takes about 15 minutes to initially set up, but might change how you work with email forever. All it takes is a commitment to maintaining order in your digital P.O. box.

As the number of unread messages steadily increases, many people are consumed and experience a feeling of dread and believe there is no fix to this plague of an Internet-infused existence.

According to Radicati’s “Email Statistics Report, Business Professionals Sent and Received 121 Emails a Day, on Average, in 2014. And That Number Is Increasing”

Everyone’s habits and needs differ. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to inbox organization. However, we’ve rounded up our very best tips for prioritizing your emails and achieving a more efficient workflow.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Delete

Anxiety, fear, disenchantment, whichever emotion overcomes you when you open your inbox must stop. Everyone feels overwhelmed at times, that called being human. Don’t concern yourself with feeling, instead focus on the doing. Decide what emails are unimportant and delete and archive as many new and old messages as possible, then forward what can be answered by someone else. Archived emails are forever searchable and forever out of sight.

If your too busy to regularly filter emails received, schedule a few hours every week to cleanse your inbox and get it down to the zero.

Standing in line buying shopping or waiting for the train is the perfect time to de-clutter your inbox.

2. Organize Your Inbox

Creating folders helps prevent your inbox from filling up. Emails about upcoming meetings, concerts or travel plans don’t necessarily deserve a place in your inbox. You can instead add events to your calendar.

We recommend creating folders for “purchases,” “events” and “travel,” where you can store things like airline confirmations, hotel reservations, concert tickets or restaurant booking.

3. Open With Caution

You can’t reply to everything, so concentrate on what matters at the right time, and reply to the rest later.  Be honest about your priorities and set realistic time expectations. Use your gut instinct about which emails deserve a response and which deserve to be deleted — it can be hard, but learning when to say no is crucial. Less is always more so get into the practice of sending short concise emails, not an essay, a thesis paper, or a book. Simple bullets are great.

You Need to Be Mature in Your Decisions and Be Wise Enough to Delete the Emails You Don’t Want.

4. The 80/20 Rule

20% of our emails will consume 80% of our time. Don’t fight it. Instead quickly handle the remaining 80% by quickly responding to new messages that can be answered in two or less minutes. Then move other messages that require more than two minutes to answer to a separate “requires response” folder. Also try to process email periodically throughout the day, perhaps at the top of each hour and don’t leave the email client open.

5. Be True

Honesty is the best policy in adopting “inbox zero”. Be honest about your priorities and set realistic time expectations. Use your gut instinct about which emails deserve a response and which deserve to be deleted — it can be hard, but learning when to say no is crucial in achieving inbox zero.

Six Inbox Folders You’ll Need 

  1. Weekly Review: For emails, we don’t need to read immediately, but should review by the end of the week.
  2. Backlog: For emails that simply aren’t a current priority that we should revisit eventually.
  3. Action Required: For emails that require us to complete a task or follow up.
  4. Awaiting Response: For emails that we expect important responses to.
  5. Delegated: For emails, we’ve delegated to others.
  6. Archived: For emails, we want out of our inbox without deleting them entirely.

Say goodbye to inbox infinity and hello to inbox zero. Remeber God designed us to create wealth, to produce wealth; he designed us to be productive people. God wants you to be productive, and his plan for your life includes wealth creation — not wealth redistribution.

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Written by Richard Jones

I want to help you to see news events as starting points for constructive conversations. I seek to cut through the froth of the political spin cycle to underlying truths and values. I want to be so focused on progress that together we can provide a credible and constructive counter-narrative to the hopelessness-, anger-, and fear-inducing brand of discourse that is so pervasive in the news.

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