I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
My definition of inbox zero may differ from yours or any gurus that claim to have coined the phrase. Every morning, I clear out newsletters and overnight updates from various sources. I leave the important client-based emails that need action or responses. That’s my starting point by 8 a.m.
This morning, I cleared 24 emails and was left with two, both from a new client on the West Coast. I’ll have to get to them later. I know what my schedule is today, I have two work calls. I also know what my todo list looks like since I wrote it out yesterday afternoon in my Field Notes. Some of that list has been carried over from other days/weeks.
Against all productivity advice, I leave Gmail open all day. I work on three screens. One for Slack communication with my team, one for Gmail and the other for my ShareASale dashboard. When emails come in, I deal with them immediately. If I’m writing a blog post or analyzing reports, I fight the urge to check that Inbox (1) notification. If I do check it, I can usually get back on task pretty quick.
Most of the email that comes in gets deleted manually and immediately. My Gmail account goes back to 2006 and I have nearly 16 gigs with 165,726 emails archived. I know you might look at yours and see 10 times that amount. I’m not a digital hoarder. My spam is empty. My trash is empty. My junk email is empty. I’m also very good at trying to stay off subscription lists. Occasionally, I use unroll.me. I don’t want a service to automatically filter out unimportant emails. I don’t want to miss anything that might slip through.
Boomerang for Gmail has been a huge gift though. For those emails that never get a reply, I don’t forget them anymore. That’s my way of delegating and being able to archive that email. If I don’t get a reply in a timely fashion, I get the Boomerang reminder and I make the determination on how to handle that message again.
When I don’t want to deal with an email and it’s best suited for someone else on the team, they get a simple forward. No explanation needed. They know they have to deal with it now. And, when they do, they know I appreciate being copied. Not using reply all appropriately is a pet peeve of mine. It’s a constant struggle in business life.
So, every day, I strive for inbox zero. I try to visit my computer once more before I knock off the night and clear the inbox again. Some days/weeks, it’s impossible to get to inbox zero. But my goals are always the same, crush the todo list, create tomorrow’s todo list and be as responsive as possible. Even if the rest of the world isn’t, I want to shock them with my response time and careful consideration of their needs and requests. Inbox zero is my definition of customer service.
Now, I can get back to my todo list and wait for replies.