Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann

Monday, 13 April 2009

As todays task on the ProBlogger "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" challenge (#31DBBB) at ProBlogger, I have to do a blog post about another blog. I thought I would chose a post that I have been using a lot myself and often in my coaching, namely Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero at 43 folders.

I get around a 100 emails a day and it is not uncommon to find my inbox with nearly a 1,000 emails, particularly if I have been traveling in wireless-less parts of the world or have been on holiday without my laptop. Managing this level of email and still getting useful stuff done has always been a challenge and this is often a huge problem for many of the people I develop and coach. David Allen's "Getting Things Done" is a great framework for generally increasing productivity but last year Merlin Mann adapted this specifically to email and developed his idea of "Inbox Zero".

The video at the link above explains the concept and how to put it into practice but in essence it falls down to three principles:

1) Don't use your inbox as a storage space

This used to be my undoing as I would skim my inbox, deal with anything urgent and leave the other emails "till later". The net effect of this is that the inbox becomes a morrass of emails which needs to be searched several times a day for "that key important email". So how do you do this?

2) Deal with any email that takes less than 2 minutes to process immediately

The first step is to go through the inbox and deal with any email that takes less than 2 minutes to process. For most this involves deleting, moving to various filing folders or quick one- or two-sentence replies. I find that 95% of my emails can be processed this way.

3) Process any email that will take more than 2 minutes to process into a specific folder and decide what action needs doing with this

The remaining emails then need to be put into a specific action folder (@Telephone for people I need to ring, @Office for things I need to print out or write letters for, @BringForward for emails I need to look at next month, @Online for emails that need to be connected to the web to process).

Using this approach gives me a clear empty inbox at least twice a week and a tremendous feeling of accomplishment! Thanks Merlin :)


Michele Rigby 15 April 2009 at 15:14  

I just did this (and listened to a webtalk by Merlin following your links.) Zero inbox right now!

Good to have you back and blogging, I was wondering if I should start to get worried about you!

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