At the end of the day, I get great satisfaction knowing that my inbox is empty. For the last 10 years, I have been able to stay on top of my email by following the tips I am about to share with you. Every time I get an email I go through this same process to keep my inbox empty.
1. Can I delete it?
I love deleting emails. I found most emails can be deleted with very little consequence to my work or life. I work in organizations where I am carbon copy on everything. I used to save these emails because I thought I will need it someday but this turns out to be false. Learn to embrace deleting emails and you are halfway to taking charge of your inbox.
2. If I can’t delete it right away, can I act on it in less than 2 minutes?
If it is a short email that requires a quick response, I can actually take care of it right away. If the email takes less than 2 minutes to read and act upon, you should just do it. It is a waste of time to read and re-read an email multiple times without deciding to do something about it. Most emails fall under this category. Once I have acted on the email (either by reading or responding to it, it will get deleted it or filed away for reference). After reading emails, I always take action on it. The goal is to keep my inbox free of emails.
3. Turn your inbox into a to-do list or reminder.
My inbox is sacred territory. Any emails still residing there must be important or requires my attention. For example, if an email has an action item that I need to do, I will leave it in my inbox as a reminder that I need to do something. Also, if I am waiting for a reply back from someone, I will leave the email in my inbox as a reminder.