How to get over Inbox Zero

Years ago one of the books I read, I think it was The Four Hour Work Week, talked about making decisions by considering the worst case scenario if you made no decision or took no action. The basic concept is to consider what is the worst thing that could happen if you did nothing. The worst case scenario rarely actually happens, but if you are able to accept the worst case scenario then it is okay for you take no action.

When you apply is philosophy to your email inbox it helps you get over the stress of continuously pursuing inbox zero. In the workplace the worst case scenario, if you miss something that is truly important, is usually that your coworker will come ask you if you’ve taken action on the email they sent you.

The first step to getting over Inbox Zero is to turn off notifications so you’re not seeing the number of emails growing. Next, set your email program to preview the first three lines of messages. You can then quickly scan these first three lines and decide if this message requires you to take action. If it does, then add it to your list of things to do, assign it a priority level, and plan when you will do it. If it doesn’t, leave it alone and move on. Once you have determined that a message does not require you to take action on it, then any additional time you spend giving it your attention is wasted time.

If inbox zero is truly important to you, set a time where you highlight all of your emails and mark them as read. Perhaps every Monday morning, or every night so you can start your day or week fresh.

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