If you’re looking to streamline your workflows and become more productive, your email inbox – and achieving Inbox Zero – is a natural place to start.
Sometimes it seems we’ll never get to the bottom of your inbox. There’s always a client, employee, meeting, or deadline just around the corner. However, a lot of this can be solved by taking control of your inbox management.
It feels great once you’ve done it, too. In this guide, we’ll show you easy to follow, actionable tips and tricks, so you’ll feel in control of your inbox again.
First, what is ‘Inbox Zero’?
A buzzword in the world of workflow productivity, Inbox Zero for Gmail was designed by productivity consultant Merlin Mann from Google, to help people deal with a high volume of email in a short amount of time, thus reducing demands on their time and attention.
How does it work?
Inbox Zero will allow you to prioritise your work, rather than letting the pressure of your email senders decide how and when you get things done.
It’s not just bulk deleting, though. If you think of your inbox as your ‘In’ mail tray, Inbox Zero is a way to help you sort through your incoming mail quickly, while ensuring everything you need is available and in the right place.
Before you start
Merlin Mann suggests beginning with ‘processing.’ Rather than reading, you’re merely scanning your emails then sorting them into five possible actions:
Action 1: Delete
So long as you have a record of important information somewhere memorable, it’s time to wave goodbye and either archive them, or delete them altogether.
You shouldn’t need an enormous subset of folders for your archive either. Remember, the search system on your Gmail makes finding past emails really easy.
Action 2: Delegate
When you have a business to run, it doesn’t pay to shoulder all the responsibility yourself – especially for smaller admin tasks. Where possible, try and delegate the task to an employee or assistant and turn your attention elsewhere.
If your staff aren’t available, and an assistant would take up too many resources, there are cost-effective, third-party solutions that can relieve the pressure on your inbox and workflow. EMMA offers virtual assistant services that can support email management, even down to diary management and organising meetings.
Action 3: Respond
If the response is a simple yes or no, or will only take a minute or two, it’s worth trying to respond immediately so you won’t forget.
Action 4: Defer
There are some emails that take more time to read, or take longer to form a response. In these cases defer the email for a later, more thorough response.
Set aside time that day to craft a more thoughtful, well-crafted reply. It’s worth making a note on your to-do list and giving yourself a deadline so you don’t defer it for too long.
Action 5: Act now
Meeting invite, networking events, or any occasions need to be put straight in your calendar. If it’s a task, put it on your to-do list.
After these five actions have been completed, you’re now in a position to archive everything. Archiving all your processed emails will mean your inbox will stay at zero, and all your mail will be sorted in its column, folder, label, or either archived or deleted.