Maintain and Sustain
A lot of people have a love hate relationship with cleaning. But who wouldn’t love a clean email inbox? It’s almost better than a clean bathroom! But where to start and how to maintain?
We previously covered the starting points of cleaning out your inbox and working your way towards Inbox Zero-an inbox free of emails. Now let’s take a look at a few helpful steps to keeping your shiny new inbox free of burdening emails.
The biggest tip when working your way to Inbox Zero is to remember not to use your inbox as your to-do list! If something in your email requires action that can’t be completed in 2 minutes or less, add it to your task list. Then you can delete the email and move on! This keeps your to-do list in one centralized location and allows you to increase your productivity.
Set aside a certain time each day to check emails, and don’t make that time first thing in the morning! Until you master the ability to work through this system, checking emails first thing will often distract you from other tasks that need to be accomplished. It could be a system of ten minutes at the top of every hour, or better yet, only check emails every 2-4 hours. If you feel people expect you to respond quicker, it’s most likely because you have trained them to expect that immediate response! Read this carefully…you don’t have to respond immediately, just timely! (mind literally BLOWN).
Next, don’t kill the messenger, but you need to actually close your email client and turn off notifications. It is possible. Leaving it open all day provides constant distractions from necessary tasks. The only time you need to open your email is in the pre-determined time you set aside to check emails daily. If it’s possible, depending on your work/life scenario, don’t load your emails to your phone either. Just one more way to eliminate the email distractions.
What happens during vacations or time off work? Glad you asked! Set an auto response that you won’t be responding during that time frame. Then don’t respond! Again, if you can pull it off, tell people in the auto response that all messages received during that time frame will be deleted and will have to be resent! For those of us who couldn’t stomach that method, simply make sure that when you return from the time off, you schedule a time to address your inbox, just like you did when you started.
One last tip that will help eliminate unnecessary emails coming in is to make certain that emails you send to others are concise and clear. This alleviates the need for multiple emails going back and forth derailing everyone’s productivity.
Inbox Zero can sound like a cumbersome task, but the time invested in the process will produce far greater gains in productivity levels and freedom for your thoughts than you can even begin to imagine. Speaking from experience, it really is liberating! Now on to the bathrooms!