InboxZero, first impression

You must check your emails less often. When you get new emails, you have to take action for each and every one.

There are five possible actions for each email:

  1. Delete / archive
    • Delete crap
    • Archive the rest in a single « Archive » folder (use full-text search to retrieve)
  2. Delegate
    • Put a follow-up
  3. Respond (quick)
    • Keep the ball in motion
    • Ask a question if you don’t have enough information to respond
  4. Defer
    • Put in a « To respond » folder
    • Try to empty it every day
    • Consider it a small response buffer
  5. Do
    • Do it, now…
    • …or schedule it (don’t use your inbox as a to-do list)
    • When it’s done, archive

Of course, this is customizable. You can come up with another list. The key is to always know what to do with a new email.

Other advice:

  • Essentially, you need to develop & keep this processing habit!« We are what we frequently do » Aristotle
  • Get and read emails once an hour, process to zero and shut if off! (same for news feeds)
  • Cheating is OK
    • Filter high noise / low signal emails but don’t over filter
    • Use templates for frequent answers
    • « I don’t know » is a valid answer
    • If you’re very late to answer an email, why not simply reply « do you still need this? »
  • No fiddling
    • Don’t browse your inbox without processing
    • Stop doing meta work
  • Check yourself periodically & adjust the process if necessary
    • Am I putting my attention where it should be?

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