Monday, April 30, 2012

Getting to Inbox Zero

Love it or hate it, we're pretty much stuck with email. And inbox zero is touted as nirvana. But like unicorns, some doubt that inbox zero exists. Join us for a conversation about how to get your inbox under control and finally befriend that elusive unicorn. :)
Download the podcast here.

Websites mentioned in this episode:

Clear Context
The Secret Weapon
Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

1 comment:

polojohn said...


I have a few thoughts on the 300 email a day issue that was discussed that I would like to share. I tried talking at the pod cast while listening to the recording but that didn't work! So here they are.....

I think it's useful to categorize the types of e-mail I get and in to "predictable" and "other". Here are some examples and what I do with them.

Predictable email's (that I get at work)
Reports, or comments on report- auto filtered (by using part of the subject name that does not change) into a reports folder and into the relevant sub folder. I now review all the reports on one day rather than the minute or day they arrive. I get a few reports I want to see straight away so let them come into my in box then delete or file manually.

Regular up dates or communications- auto filtered into a communications folder and into the relevant sub folder- read if I get chance

Responses to my requests for information - often I have to ask 15 or so people to provide some basic information about a specific issue. Most people just hit reply so I create a rule based on the subject I used knowing when they respond my rule will kick in. They are filed into a folder called "data request" and a sub folder named after topic. I love this as it saves 15 more emails hitting my inbox and I can easily find all the responses and chase any that are late.

Old email distribution lists- I changed jobs and it takes some time in a big organisation for all the lists to catch up. I have a rule to delete old things I no longer need before I see them.

These rules save me from being overwhelmed when I open my inbox. I can now also choose when to look at things rather than be faced with them everyday. It gets better, there are some things I don't look at and I still have a job! I set these to auto delete now, it is a bit brave but I like living on the corporate edge ;) you do need to set a few rules first like "if it's from my boss don't do anything and leave in my inbox". I learnt the hard way that when the boss makes a comment on a report and it gets auto filed its not going to end well.

Other emails
Nothing new here just got to separate the actions from the reference and the trash.

Although not popular on the call I have a lot of reference files by subject which work for me.

I do the small actions while in email (based on 2 minute rule) and get the big actions out of email to free up my inbox. By out I mean add to my todo list of choice at the time. I always keep the original email in a folder I called "action support" but never really have to look at it again so it's out of my in box but still safe.

Don't get me wrong this is not a magic off tap, I still have to put the hours in to get through them and if I'm out for a day it's painful the next day but i do now get other things done other than my email.

Web based v desktop
While Web based emails are great I think this sort of volume is asking alot from them. As you mentioned you can use a 3rd party desktop email clients via impact. This gives you the best of both worlds, more control (better rules and templates) at the desktop and you can always log on to the Web email from wherever you are as Gmail is still running the show. Outlook was out of my price range, I currently use "The bat" which is affordable but does what I need. I love the sorting office which let's you create a rule to "move to folder."....... Once read. I use this with Gmail for my personal emails, I let things come into my inbox, read them then they get sorted away for me (you can prevent this if you don't want it to be filed away straight away).

All done. Love the pod cast