It is amazing how complex people have made the control of their inboxes these days. You can’t travel far without hearing people complain about ‘How full their inboxes are’ or ‘How many messages they need to respond to’. In truth, the solution is pretty simple yet remains elusive for most.
I found a good piece called “An Empty In-Box, or With Just a Few E-Mail Messages?” over at the NY Times. What it suggest isn’t rocket science it is pretty simple as I have always maintained. The most important thing is to limit the time you spend in email. This means disabling notifications and only dealing with email a few time a day rather. Probably the most liberating step, and the one that most people fail to successfully take, is to clear out you inbox. Your goal should be to keep you inbox as empty as possible.
When setting out to empty your inbox, be ruthless. If you don’t need it then delete it, if you do then archive it somewhere else than the inbox. There isn’t a need to create a really complex archiving folder scheme because all modern email programs have sophisticated search, so just archive it to one folder and move on.
Once you have a clear inbox then you’ll need to work to maintain it that way which is what most people are afraid of, but let me ask you – did you get employed simply to go through email? When the time for performance reviews arrives are you judged on how much email you have? Of course not! You are are judged on getting results for your company and email is simply a tool for achieving that. Like any tool it needs to be used effectively and that, my friend, comes down to you, no one else.
If you lead a life that is dominated by you inbox then I feel sorry for you because there is so much more out there to enjoy in the world. If you want to get back in control of you inbox and avoid information overload then I’d suggest you read the article and maybe see www.doemailless.com for more information about getting any help you need.