Inbox Zero is that special time of day when I can rest in the knowledge that I’ve taken care of everything critical and I can focus on one of two things.
- What’s really important to my business – the 20% of effort that creates 80% of the results.
- What makes me happy outside of “work”.
On a good day, I’ll achieve Inbox Zero twice. Yet, somedays, I won’t hit it at all.
There are plenty of schools of thought on Inbox Zero and I’m by no means an IB purist. For me, it’s not about answering every email; it’s about acting on every email. It’s,
- answering what is high-priority and high-value
- scheduling what’s still high-value, but that can wait (I use the Snooze feature of Google Inbox if it’s an actual thread I need to respond in; otherwise I physically write down a task)
- delegating (to my great team who is actually a lot better than me at…most things) what’s high priority but isn’t high value (for hitting my goals in my role)
- deleting, filtering, or otherwise removing myself from what is neither a priority nor of value
Another key thing, a vital component of my strategy, is not keeping my email open. In fact, for the past two months, I’ve kept Inbox Pause (from the folks at Boomerang) turned on 24/7 so that I have no choice but to receive email just twice per day – once at 10:30am and once at 3:15pm. If my team needs something, they know they can reach me on Slack. If a client has an emergency, they have my direct line. While this was completely terrifying for the first few weeks (and I cheated by turning off Inbox Pause a few times), I realized immediately that nothing bad happened if I waited to answer emails at these two times each day. I also no longer check my email on my phone, unless I’ll be mobile without a laptop for more than 5 or 6 hours at a stretch.
I am (no longer) someone who prides myself on answering every single email I receive. It’s simply unsustainable and allowing that well-intentioned effort to keep my attention fragmented for days on end benefits no one.
I’m still continuing to explore alternatives to email and techniques for reducing email volume. It’s been fun and incredibly rewarding so far.