Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Inbox Zero

One important productivity tool is your inbox; the email one, not the David Allen conceptual one. Nothing is more depressing than an overflowing mailbox which takes ages to load and makes it hard to find what you need. So having a zero-inbox is really a first step towards feeling more positive and productive, at least that's the effect it has on me.

The first important step is to consolidate multiple email-addresses you might have (work, private, etc) to a single account, so that you do not have to check in multiple places all the time. This is very easy to do with gmail. Next, set up four labels for the important/unimportant and urgent/non-urgent combinations. I have chosen _A1 to _A4, as these will show up at the top of the "labels" bar on gmail. Each email that requires an action is immediately shunted off into one of those four mailboxes. Constantly archiving all the other mails you get is also very important, and occasionally, wenn stuff builds up, move everything into an _inbox, to get your Inbox Zero back. If you allowed it to build up, then it cannot have been important!

Another benefit, apart from the psychological one, is that when you're on the move, checking your mail is a lot quicker!

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely agree with this - I've been using multiple inboxes since I was alerted to it a few months ago (thanks Tom and Oliver!) and managing the info flow is now all in one 'box' (a key gtd principle).

    I've also been using Tasks within gmail (go to settings, labs, and enable tasks) - whenever I'm reading an email and need to deal with it later, I add to tasks from the context menu and then archive. A later visit to tasks will show the email heading and a link which opens up the email. Very neat. :-)