Doesn't it always feel that the more you try and reply to your emails or delete them, the fuller your inbox always seems? By the time you manage to get through one email, 2 others have appeared in the meantime, and getting to a zero inbox often seems like a completely impossible dream.
It sometimes feel like you are going into email overload and getting through your inbox often becomes your main activity of the day, distracting you from all the other important things, such as making your business grow and actually doing your job.
But if you start changing some of your email habits, there is a way to get to a zero inbox every single day, and I am going to tell you exactly how.
Delete all your unwanted subscriptions
I want you to do something for me. Go to your inbox (yes, now!) and count how many subscription emails you have received today. That many, huh! And how many did you actually read or found interesting? You will start noticing that there are quite a few promotional emails that you regularly get on there that you never even bother opening. What's the point of keeping them? Unsubscribing from all your old, useless subscriptions is guaranteed to cut your inbox by half.
If you are like me and like to subscribe to about a thousand newsletters, before realising that you will never realistically have the time to read half of them, this will be a lengthy process. But if you do set your mind to it, and every time you receive an automated email you really couldn't care less about, go through the effort of actually opening it and clicking on that little "unsubscribe" button at the bottom, it will soon become an automatic process for you and you will be unsuscribed from all that clutter in no time. Do you still get promo emails due to that useless white paper you downloaded a few years ago? Unsubscribe. Coupons from an online store where you bought a jumper once? Usubscribe. And what about all those Twitter notifications? Unsubscribe.
Make the effort to empty it daily
This one seems pretty straight-forward in theory, but in reality we all know how difficult it is. It can be done though, and it's all a matter of putting effort and discipline into the process. Set yourself a task and try it out for a week. Every night, before turning off your laptop, make sure that little number on your inbox says 0 (or, depending on your software, there might be no number on there if you don't have any unread emails), and start fresh the next morning. After a while, it will become a habit and you will stop falling behind.
Stop using your inbox as your to-do list
I am completely guilty of this. I always keep unread emails in my inbox to remind me of things I have to do or people I have to contact, and I sometimes even send emails to myself to remind me of things. However, if this carries on, we will never be able to get to that zero inbox.
Start using a proper to-do app on your phone, where you can register all those little tasks. Or if you are not very technology-friendly, an old-fashioned pen and paper will do.
Rather than keep them markes ad "unread", another idea is to convert your emails into tasks directly from your inbox. For instance, in Outlook you can set a coloured reminder to the email, or flag the email with a reminder to pop onto your screen at a later date.
Set up really good filters
Wouldn't it be great if your inbox knew exactly where to store your incoming emails by itself, almost like by magic? By setting up really good filters, this is 100% possible.
If an email doesn't need an immediate attention, such as social media notifications, PR emails, forum comments, etc. you should create an appropriately-named folder for them and set up a filter so that any new email from that recipient or of that kind will be automatically placed there.
This method not only helps keeping your inbox clean from clutter, but it also enables you to deal with all similar emails in batch, reducing the time you spend on them.
Getting to a zero inbox is just a matter of changing your habits by really setting yourself a daily goal, and sticking to it for a week. Soon it will become automatic and you will never go into email overload anymore.
Do you have a method to deal with your emails? Do you ever manage to get to that zero inbox?