Galvin and Associates

How to Get Your Email Inbox to Zero Every Day



A few years ago I went through an entire day without getting any email. Assuming something was broken, I checked my settings and connections. I got worried. I sent test messages from other devices. Everything worked fine. It just so happened that I didn’t get any email for one day!

Today, we are inundated with an onslaught of email each day. Often these email messages pile up in our inbox and increase our level of stress. It is natural to open a message and leave it in the inbox if you can’t answer it right away. But when those emails number over 100, the inbox becomes unmanageable. Fortunately, there are some simple changes you can make to get your inbox to zero every day.

Check for new messages at specific times
Limit yourself to checking email only 2-3 times per day, say first thing in the morning, before lunch, and before the end of the day. This means you will only open email when you have time to process the messages. Turn off notifications to avoid distraction when you are trying to work.

Use folders wisely
On the navigation pane, add new folders where you can store email messages you need to access later. Add a folder called @Actions for emails you want to process later. Add one called @Waiting for emails to track the shipment of a product to you. Add @Reading for the newsletters and blog posts you want to save until later.

Create rules to automate your inbox
After you have a folder in place called @Reading, or something like that, create a rule that will automatically move messages out of your inbox and to the reading folder. Simply right-click on the email and select “Rules.”

Use a task list to clear out the clutter
If you cannot immediately answer an email message, create a task noting the relevant email is at @Actions, then drag the email out of your inbox and into @Actions. This will help you to stop using your inbox like a task list.

Use these techniques to get your inbox to zero each day. You will feel less guilt and less pressure when you sit down to a blank screen and hit “Send/Receive.” Respond immediately to as many email messages as you can. Process the others and store them where you can easily find them. What will it take to make these regular habits for you?

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