The Only Way To Keep Your Inbox Empty

The inbox is a never ending topic.  I’m convinced that I’ve finally found the only way to keep your inbox empty.  It’s so simple I almost can’t believe it works so well.

The inbox is an on-going debate.  The Today Show recently brought up the subject, so I thought I’d address it again.  It seems there are two classes of email users.  One class always has thousands in their inbox, the other has zero.

Keeping everything in an inbox is easy, but keeping it at zero, now that is hard work.  This simple system will help you easily keep your inbox empty all the time.

1. Create these three folders

A. Action

B. Waiting For

C. Processed

2. Move every message older than a month into Processed.  This is scary but let’s face it, if it’s older than a month, it’s either worthless or someone has already reminded you about it more recently.

3. Move everything left in your inbox into one of the three folders.

A. Action – if you need to respond or take some other form of action, move the message here.

B. Waiting For – if there is no action to be taken but you need to keep the email handy to remind you of something, move the message here.

C. Processed – If the message is important but requires no action, nor serves as a remind, move the message here.

D. Everything else is trash!

4. Keep up with your inbox.  Process it at least daily.  Move everything into the folders.  Don’t take action on anything, just read them and move them immediately to the appropriate folder.  It should be a race to simply clear the inbox, you can finish reading the messages once they’re in the correct folders.

Once the emails are in their folders, start with the action folder.  Open it and make a to-do item for each one.  My favorite software for this is Nozbe.

Whenever you complete a to-do item, move the corresponding email to either processed or waiting for if you’re waiting for a reply.

Check your waiting for folder at least weekly to serve as a reminder of what items you’re waiting for.  This is a good time to send reminder emails to the people you’re waiting on.  Once the message no longer serves as a reminder, delete it or move it to Processed.

Every email software has a good search feature.  Any email I need is alway easily accessible via this feature so there is no need to keep a bunch of folders, simply use your search feature if you need to retrieve something from your processed folder.

That’s it!  Keeping your inbox empty is simple.  Don’t over think it.  Apply this simple 3 folder process and you’ll never have a cluttered inbox again.

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