Earlier this year I made the decision that my inboxes were too full.
Not that they always had content in them.
I like to stick to Inbox Zero.
Since I’ve had an email starting back in the late ’90s it’s kind of what I’ve always done. Then as I got into the working world in the 2000s I continued the practice.
It’s kind of like my to-do list each day. I take in emails, assess them, schedule things and then archive the emails in case I need them later. Or I delete the ones I don’t really need.
I even have a process where I want to have records of emails, but I don’t really need to see them in my inbox so I’ll setup a filter to archive those messages before they even hit my inbox. I never see them, but they’re there in case I need to search for them.
Anyway, a few months ago i was noticing that I was doing too much work for all of this to keep things tidy and at zero so I made a few changes.
Change #1. Unsubscribe
The first thing I did was unsubscribe from about a dozen regular emails. Some were daily. Others were weekly. Others were just once in awhile.
I went back through my trash and all mail boxes and started looking at the sources. News, information, blogs, etc. I unsubscribed from quite a bit. I realized that I wasn’t really consuming all the content. The emails would come and I’d just delete them and move on.
It’s a little wasted energy, to delete an email, but it adds up over time. And there is something psychologically overwhelming to end the day at zero and start the morning at 20+. Removing a few of those every day goes a long way.
Change #2. Notifications
I also realized that I was getting email notifications. From social media. From business apps and tools. All kinds of things. So I went around and started turning those off.
I don’t need to see all the notifications I get from Twitter or LinkedIn. I login to those sites about once a day or so. I can see the notifications when I login. I don’t need them in my inbox.
And the same goes for project management sites. We use a lot of Google’s G Suite. You can get a lot of notifications. I turn them off for the most part and review them when I login.
It allows for fewer interruptions and less clutter in my inbox.
Change #3. Empowerment
A final item I did was to empower the people around me. As a business owner it’s easy to think that you’re important. It’s easy to think that you need to be making decisions.
And that is certainly the case, but what I’ve learned and am still learning is that you have to empower those around you to make decisions. You have to hire the right people with the same core values and trust that they’re going to make good decisions most of the time.
This kind of spreads around the email responsibility. But you can also share these tips and strategies for inbox zero with your team so you’re not just passing all of your responsibility onto them. You’re doing a little of that so make sure that you’re not overwhelming one person with too much.
If it gets to be too much work with them on the things above and then look to spread around the responsibility even more.
We’re constantly connected to information these days. We can access our email all the time. We have to take responsibility for our time and inboxes and understand that much of the content overload we experience is our own fault. These strategies have worked to help me organize things a little better. Now when I check my inbox I’m very confident that it’s only the highest priority information. That puts my mind at ease.