Efficiency Nirvana: Empty Inbox

Last week, for the first time, Judy achieved something that Dagmar, the more organized twin, routinely achieves: a completely empty e-mail inbox. You don't need to be one of those office organization consultants to know that it's not good to have hundreds of e-mails cluttering up your inbox. While we are still working on achieving a very clean inbox on a consistent basis, here are some quick tips to get you started:
  • Set up e-mail filters for all newsgroups and listservs that you belong to. These messsages will then bypass the inbox and go into pre-specified folders to read at your leisure.
  • If you don't think you need an e-mail, delete it. When in doubt, delete it.
  • Create good folders on your e-mail system. The more granular, the better. Have one for each client, subdivided into correspondence, projects, invoices, etc. We have dozens of folders that are well sub-divided for ease of finding.
  • When you get an e-mail, evaluate if you can take action within a few minutes. If yes, do it right away. If not, wait until you have some extra time to research and think before responding.
  • Consider setting up a "pending but not urgent" folder. You could move anything that's not too pressing into that folder and program a reminder to look at it once a day.
Having a clean inbox really gives one a sense of accomplishment, organization, and simply room to breathe. Also, you will save lots of time as you will be easily able to locate important messages. Try it -- it's actually easier than cleaning out a desk drawer.


3 comments:

Guija Matías on September 4, 2009 at 1:49 PM said...

Loved the "in doubt, delete it" tip! :D

Nathalie Reis on September 10, 2009 at 7:25 AM said...

I have followed your advice and I went from over 2000 messages in my inbox to about 8. I feels weird, but I have to say, it's alot more organised. Thanks!

Now I have to clean my sent Items box...

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on September 14, 2009 at 1:04 AM said...

@Matías: yep, we've found that if you are hestitant about whether you need the e-mail or not, you probably don't.

@Nathalie: Wow, down to 8! That is wonderful, we are so impressed. Great job.

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