Is your email Inbox driving you crazy? I know it’s a real challenge for many people, and if it is for you, it’s worth taking a little time now, so you can enjoy an empty Inbox every day.
Try one of the strategies mentioned in Joe Kissell’s article,TidBITS: It’s Not Email That’s Broken, It’s You. He links to several excellent strategies, and says :
“So, even though I’m extremely fond of my own system, and even though I have strong feelings about some common habits (I truly can’t bear the idea of using one’s inbox as a to do list), I’m not trying to prescribe a particular approach to email.”
I’ve got my own strategy, and it’s simple. I’m with Lady MacBeth: Out, damn’d spot! out, I say! I keep my Inbox EMPTY. It would drive me crazy to have thousands of messages in my Inbox…
Batch-process your Inbox
Here’s a good rule for Inbox management: only do what only you can do.
That is, let someone else handle the “stuff”. Hire a virtual assistant to manage your Inbox. You can hire one on Craigslist, or on any of the outsourcing sites. Yes, you’ll need to spend an hour or two training your assistant. (Tip: create several training videos using Jing.) Once that’s done. you may get a few calls over the course of a week about messages your assistant isn’t sure of, but after a few short weeks, you’ll be well on the way to email nirvana… :-)
Once you’ve weeded out the messages someone else can handle, there’s a quick solution to the rest: batch-process your messages a couple of times a day. Keep your email closed the rest of the time, so you can focus.
Create folders in your chosen email client: Ideas, Review, Read… Your folders must make sense to you, no one else. It will take a few weeks to find a folder structure which is perfect, so be prepared to tinker.
Once that’s done, get your task and calendar apps ready to handle tasks which develop from your email. I use Things; I drag message into Things, so I can process the tasks.
You CAN have an empty Inbox. Once you’re used to an empty Inbox, you won’t want it any other way.
And if you’re stuck with 7,000 messages — delete them ALL. Yes, delete them. If there’s anything important you missed, you’ll find out about it. Start out fresh, and implement a system which ensures that your Inbox’s normal state is empty. You’ll feel much better, and you’ll get more done.