Why does Inbox Zero matter?   December 1st, 2008

This post is inspired by Fredrik which tweeted that he didn’t understand the need for Inbox Zero. He had 17000 unread mail, and felt fine about it..

If I had 17000 unread mail in my inbox, I would definitely not feel fine about it. I would feel stressed. How on earth would I know if there was an assignment hiding in there? All in all, I would not have control. When I don’t have control, I become stressed.

What is Inbox Zero then?

Inbox Zero is a term coined by Merlin Mann of the blog 43 folders. If you follow his guides, you will never again feel overwhelmed by your inbox.

In short, this is how you do it:

Only read mail when you mean it. Reading mail comes with a responsibility, you should never read mail if you don’t plan to do anything about the stuff you read.

When you decide to read mail, approach in this matter:

  • Look over the (unread) mails in your inbox. Identify
    • Spam and other mail you never will act upon, and delete them
    • The mails that can be handled by someone else, delegate them.
    • The mails that you can respond or act upon immediately, do it.
    • The mails that requires further work, mark them as follow up and remove them from the inbox.
  • When you’re done, the inbox is empty again and you can enjoy a cup of coffee.

If you always follow this guide, I will guarantee that you be in control of your email. It requires some disiplin, but it’s worth it.

If you find this useful, check out the talk that Merlin Mann gave to Google. It’s long ( 58 minutes), but it’s worth it.

To learn more about Inbox Zero, head over to 43 folders’ Inbox Zero page and read for instance this.

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