Sometimes, I’m horribly disorganized. Ok, a lot of time I’m disorganized. Over the summer, I got fed up with the black hole that is my work email, and reached out to a few people on Twitter for help. Big shoutout to Amy Illingworth and Joe Young for providing resources and guidance!
My goal: Inbox Zero!
Inbox Zero is based on a principles: “process email, rather than check email” and be intentional about responding and relocating emails. For more serious info, check out this summary of Merlin Mann’s Google Tech Talk about Inbox Zero.
My first thoughts were, “this is impossible!” — and with that attitude, it is. After considering Inbox Zero for a couple weeks, I realized that I need to shift my email habits.
Process, not check:
Old habit: My bad habit in the past was to have email open on my computer all day long, and look at everything as it came in. Yes, those notifications on the top right of my computer were very distracti…squirrel! The problem was, I never actually replied to the emails, so they would get buried.
New habit: Email stays closed, unless I’m actively looking at my email, responding, deleting, and filing.
Strategic email moves:
Old habit: Everything stays in my inbox, until I throw up my arms and have a email deleting party with myself for an hour on a Saturday morning. Oh hey, there’s that email from 6 months ago!
New habit: Every email gets deleted immediately, replied to, and/or read and moved to a folder.
End the day at zero:
Old habit: See above. Black hole. And feeling of adult incompetence for losing important emails.
New habit: Nothing in my inbox! It’s like a huge weight lifted off of me.
I’ve been in school for 9 weeks, and I’ve maintained this Inbox Zero habit!
Remember, whenever you read about someone else’s habits, you have to keep your own personality and strengths in mind. Just because the above method and tips work for me doesn’t mean they’ll be perfect for you. Take it and make it your own. If you have an email tip, please share it with me.
Now, in all efforts of transparency, my personal email is still a disaster….that’s the next habit-changing email project!