What is Inbox Zero, and how can I achieve it?

Peter Russell, Russell Partnership Technology COO & CTO, looks at how best to manage emails

Email management takes up a significant amount of our working day, and is vital to control. I’m sure most people feel that they could be managing their inbox in a manner that takes less time.

This is where the concept of ‘inbox zero’ comes in, which was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. This concept does not refer to the number of messages within the inbox – it is “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in the inbox.” The overarching point is that a well-managed inbox will lead to higher levels of productivity.

Inbox zero suggests five possible actions for all emails within your inbox: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

These should all be self-explanatory, and I suggest you challenge yourself to start living by these five options within your inbox. Time is a finite resource that is best spent on core business areas, rather than constantly working on taming your inbox. Keeping up to date with this with regular housekeeping will pay dividends in terms of your time and productivity.

The inbox zero concept also suggests you do the following:
● Reply to emails at set intervals throughout the day and keep to this structure
● Delete or archive messages where possible and forward those best handled by someone else
● Only respond to emails immediately if they are urgent or can be answered in less than two minutes
● Create a folder within your inbox for emails that require a response and move messages here
● Set time within your day to answer these emails and again ensure that you stick to these scheduled times.

The Inbox Zero approach will not work for everyone, but there are undoubtedly valuable learning points within this concept for everyone to take onboard when managing emails.



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