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Inbox Zero is a methodology of keeping your Inbox, well, down to zero, empty. As we know, our Inbox becomes a place that people use to call on us for action and response. If our Inboxes are so full, we won't be able to respond. One could argue that we shouldn't use email or we should use some new technology like Slack. No matter how you slice it, you'll end up with a queue or list of items and requests from others of things that need your attention. We need the workflow to manage these items and requests. 

 

History

Inbox Zero first came out of David Allen and Getting Things Done (http://ed.ted.com/on/OQFsvelw). The premise of GTD, as it's called, is your brain can only hold about three things at one time. You should have the methodology in your life to get things out of your brain so the power available can be used toward getting things done versus holding requests or todos. 

 

Details

The information below came from Dr. Matthew Green and Betsy Lewczk. Pastor Tim Challies (http://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-get-things-done-taming-the-email-beast) had detailed as well how to use Inbox Zero


Dear colleagues, I would like to share with you a great source of recent joy in my life.

Most times I looked at my inbox in the past few weeks, it made me smile. The picture below shows why.

If your inbox is overflowing like mine was, I encourage you to try what I learned from Pastor Tim Challies (http://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-get-things-done-taming-the-email-beast) and what other productivity experts are saying too.

This is what freed me:

  1. I moved every email older than a few months into a new folder named “Old.” They are still searchable, but out of my inbox.
  2. I processed every remaining inbox email in strict order with this algorithm:
    1.  If I don’t need it, Delete it.
    2. If I need it as a reference, move it into a folder called “Archive”
    3. If I need more than 60 seconds on it, move it into a folder called “To-Do”
    4. If I can respond within 60 seconds, do it now. (I have to be sure this doesn’t creep into 600 seconds.)

This is how my inbox got to zero, and it is far more amazing than I ever expected. I estimate this, combined with turning off email notifications, is saving me 2 hours per week.

Of course, I am now responsible to process my “To-Do” folder regularly, which is actually making me more responsive to high priority email tasks.

"Imagine if you treated your actual, physical mailbox like you treat your email … You take out one of your letters, open it up and begin to read it, [then] … stuff it back inside the envelope, and put it back … your mailbox is soon crammed full of a combination of hundreds of unopened and unread letters plus hundreds of opened and read or partially read letters.

But it gets worse. 

You don’t just use your mailbox to receive and hold letters, but also to track your calendar items. You reach in deep and pull out a handful of papers with important dates and events written on them, including a few that have come and gone without you even noticing or remembering. And, of course, you also use your mailbox as a task list, so you’ve got all kinds of post-it notes in there with your to-do items scrawled all over them.

… Fifty or sixty times a day you stop whatever else you are doing, you venture down the driveway, and reach your hand inside to see if there is anything new.

It is absurd, right?" 1

 

HowTo

Turning off Outlook notifications for your Desktop (Great short video)

Turning off Email notifications for your iOS and other devices


Some Inbox Zero Tips: The Ultimate Guide 


References

  1. http://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-get-things-done-taming-the-email-beast accessed September 19, 2016