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How to get your email inbox to zero
Feb 25

How to Get Your Email Inbox to Zero

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to get your email inbox to zero...and keep it that way!

If I were to ask you right now "How many emails do you have in your inbox?" what would you say? 50? 150? 300? 7,000? 

If you have over 50-100 unprocessed emails in your inbox, chances are this is causing you to be unproductive and experience email overwhelm.

Now imagine your email inbox has zero emails in it. 

Does that change your feeling of being overwhelmed to being in control of your workload?

What if you had a simple formula to get your email inbox to zero and keep it that way for good?   

This would be a game changer for you and how you feel about your work.

People who make a daily practice of keeping their email inbox clean are in control of their tasks and deadlines. They are in the loop with internal and external communications. Leaving the office on time without stressing about what might be buried in all of those emails is something they enjoy.

Sounds great, right?

Follow these simple steps and you will get your email inbox to zero and keep it that way....for good.

STEP ONE: Mass Deleting & Filing

The fact is, at least 80% of your emails do not require any real significant action on your part so get comfortable using the delete button. A word of caution however....be ruthless but not reckless with deleting. DO NOT read each email in its entirety - at this stage you are focusing on weeding out all of the unnecessary noise and the emails you don't need to do anything with.

Sort & delete emails by FROM

Sort & delete emails by SUBJECT

Sort & file emails by DATE

STEP TWO: Processing Emails One by One

Now that you have mass filed and deleted, you should only have about 20% of your email backlog left. This is where you sit down and process each email one by one. 

When you make a decision for each and every email, your email inbox will be at zero.

How to keep your email inbox at zero

Now that you are on top of your email inbox and no longer scrolling up and down wasting precious hours a day and stressing about what you are missing or not getting done, here is how you keep your emails at zero.

STEP ONE: Set Up Processing Folders

Action Folder

Read Folder

Holding Folder

STEP TWO: Set Up Reference Folders

Set up reference folders into larger buckets with NO sub-folders (and definitely no sub-sub-folders). A smaller number of folders ensures you make quicker decisions about where to file an email when you are processing your inbox plus it leaves fewer options and makes it easier to look for an email in the future.

STEP THREE: Process Emails 1-3x a Day

Your email inbox is where new emails land and are waiting for you to process them, that's it.

Schedule in your calendar 1-3 times a day to keep your inbox at zero. Resist the urge to check your emails at any other time unless you are expecting an urgent message. We only do this to procrastinate on work, when our brains have decision fatigue or to look busy. 

Clear the handful of emails that have accumulated in your inbox since the last time you checked and you will always be at zero!

Interested in a Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Out Your Inbox and Keep it That Way?

For more productivity secrets, check out our post Top 10 Productivity Secrets to really boost your confidence at work!

Need help getting organized at work? Go to our business organizing page and check out our Productivity Mastery Program or call us at (587) 889-7198. 

We are always here to help you.

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Noreen