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Inbox Zero

Technique #

Inbox Zero is a technique for processing your email and somewhat related to the concepts David Allen put forth in Getting Things Done.

(Video: YouTube)

Commentary #

I have found Inbox Zero effective at dealing with the psychological barriers around checking and responding to email. I've adapted the process so that for every email (starting with the oldest) I choose one of the following actions:

  • Label & Archive - This is the most common action since most of my email is purely information. By using filters, most the email is pre-labeled and I usually just archive it (or delete it if it's an unsolicited advertisement).

  • Star It - I choose this for emails that require me either do something or that indicate that I'm waiting for something to happen (e.g., receipts for an order).

  • Respond - Usually to acknowledge receipt of an email, or provide someone with a particular piece of information. This must take less than two minutes.

After all the emails have been processed, I view all the starred emails. I add all the items I need to do to my task list. (I will discuss how I process the task list in a future post.)

In the past two years, I have maintained an empty inbox at home and at work and have found that I spend more time doing what needs to be done rather then trying to keep it all in my head.

Updates #

2023-11-28 #

  • Updated broken links.