Achieving Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero

Feeling swamped by messages and meeting requests in your email inbox? Then it might be time to try and achieve Inbox Zero.

As the workplace has continued to evolve, so has the way we communicate. For as wonderful as the invention of email has been, it also has its negative points. Sometimes, you might just need to step back and evaluate just which messages are important and which can find their way into the recycle bin. If you strive to reach Inbox Zero, then here are a few ways to get within distance.

Prioritise your Inbox

Usually, any emails you receive can be sorted simply into two levels of priority – urgent and not urgent. Take a few minutes each morning to have this in mind when checking through your recent emails. Often, you can work out which email require an immediate response or action, and those that can be added to your ongoing tasks list. Remember to come back to any non-urgent emails before the end of the working day though, otherwise you might fall behind and clog up your inbox further.

Use Filters and Folders

Just as physical documents and paperwork require some form of organization, your virtual documents, tasks and emails need it too. If you regularly sign up to newsletters, round ups and article updates, you can often find these get lost in the shuffle. Likewise, any important emails and reports could be likely to pass your initial attention too. Most email services will allow you to set up folders and specific filters, so use this to your advantage. As a start, create a few key categories such as ‘Newsletters’, ‘Company Updates’ and should you work in a large team, individually named folders for colleagues could prove useful too.

Turn your Inbox into a To-Do list

If you are used to a paper to-do list, it’s worth turning it into a digital one instead if you want to step closer to Inbox Zero. Use in-built features such as pins, reminders and labels on the messages in your email inbox to help you keep on track. Consider using a colour coding system to remind you of the category each email falls into and stick to it. For any incoming emails, a colour code and a note to comment on its importance or urgency will help you stay on top of your workload and might be a way to improve your workflow overall.

Switch Emails Off During Busy Points of the Day

It can only serve to frustrate you when engrossing yourself into an important task and being greeted by hundreds of pop-up alerts every time you receive a non-important email. For times in the day that you find yourself at your busiest, minimize your email window. If you feel you might need to do something more drastic, close them down until you’re completely free to deal with them again. An approach which is starting to become more common is setting an out-of-office reply for when you are experiencing a busy peak in the workday too.

We’ve listed some of our tips for attempting to reach Inbox Zero above, but what are some of your suggestions?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Sam Rose

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