0-mail inbox

2 minute read Published:


How many e-mails do you currently have in your inbox? Is it more than three? That is three too many.

A year ago, I sat myself the goal to have zero e-mails in my inbox. But why? Do I have OCD? No, just common sense. I think of my e-mail as a task manager where people can send tasks for me to do. It could be an electricity bill, it could be a mail from my family or it could be spam.

The point is, whatever lands there, I take care of. It helps me not only getting things done in time, but also in an organised manner. Thus, the e-mails are one less thing to worry about.

Here are my three tips for getting a “0-mail inbox”:

1. Folders, folders, folders.

It is essential that you use a way to organise your content, and the best method is folders. Tags can probably be used, but at least in Outlook and many other e-mail clients, folders are the way to go.

Try to make wide-categorical folders such as “Orders” and from there you could optionally divide it further through types of orders or places you often frequent such as eBay or Amazon.

For newsletters and similar, I would recommend creating a folder specifically for this.

If you do this, already you are 90% there.

2. Get-things-done mindset

Take five minutes three times a day and most of your e-mail will be packed neatly into folders.

Why five minutes? Because sitting 15 minutes with mail at the end of each day is unproductive as it gets boring quite quick, or you could be tempted to check out every mail by detail. Especially newsletters (wink, wink).

Flag things and keep them in your inbox, but only for a limited amount of time. Unsubscribe to things you don’t really read anyway.

3. Keep it short

If you respond to a lot of mails daily, especially formal ones, it could be nice to have a routine or templates. Keeping a signature template, for example, can help you do this.

Also, never do e-mail on your phone if you can avoid it. Typing on a physical keyboard is faster and moving into folders on phones are often cumbersome.

That is at least what I do. I hope that will lessen the burden of all those e-mails. If not, you can as always complain on Twitter @hillockink.

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