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How I reach inbox zero every day

Nov 02, 2022

How I reach Inbox Zero every day

Emails are both a blessing but also a curse. The ability to be able to send comms that quickly and to such scale has become so commonplace that companies now send out emails daily which have little or no meaning.

It’s not just the hundreds of newsletters that you seem to get subscribed to, but it’s the cold emails of people trying to sell you something, or even “real” emails where you’re being requested to do something.

I personally get over 200 emails a day and so it can be overwhelming if I do not stay on top of things.

I see many people leave their emails unread and they have that red banner telling them so, but I can’t do this. I need to know that I’ve reached inbox zero every single day.

To most, this is such an ordeal and feels impossible. But I’ve managed to do this for several years and allow my emails not to eat into my productivity.

I don’t use any fancy tricks or complicated software, so here are my tips on how to reach inbox zero every day.

Unsubscribe to everything

How many of your emails are actually ones you have to action, and how many are just newsletters that you have subscribed to (intentionally or not)?

My email address seems to be passed on to so many third parties that I get plenty of unwanted emails each day. I’ve now made it a habit that I unsubscribe to each email I don’t want almost immediately. I used to just delete them all, but now I take my time to hit that unsubscribe button, as it saves me time in the future.

If you like newsletters and you want to receive news to your inbox, then it may make sense to create an email address dedicated to that. You can then check that inbox at your leisure and not let it distract you from the important emails that require your immediate attention.

Transfer important info to other software

I see many bits of advice around email discussing creating folders. I’ve seen people with such elaborate folder systems that even they are confused where their emails lie.

However, the search functionality in emails are really quite good these days and there’s not really any need to create these elaborate systems, as you can find what you’re looking for by typing in a quick keyword or someone’s name.

Instead, anything that’s super important, is transferred over to our project management system, Asana. There, our whole team is completely organised and it’s easier to digest information. Any relevant contact information is transferred to our HubSpot CRM.

If you are currently using folders, I’m not saying to ditch them, but I don’t feel there is any need to spend time setting it all up, when it’s just as quick to search for emails.

Utilise your mail client’s functionalities

First of all, if you’re not already using a mail client, then you should switch. What do I mean by a mail client? I mean, something other than the native browser – e.g. Outlook, Mac Mail etc.

These clients allow you to manage multiple email addresses from one window and the interface is just a lot more user-friendly.

Plus, there are plenty of additional features that you can use that will help you be more productive.

Since each email client has different features, I won’t list out the ones I use in my preferred choice (Spark), but instead, I will pick the one feature that I find the most useful that can be found in each of the mail clients.

Pins!

When I check my emails, I immediately pin any email that I know I have to action, otherwise it gets lost in a sea of emails and I can forget about it. Then, when I have some time to attend to emails, I start with the pinned emails and work my way through.

Block out time

Many people declare to only check their emails twice a day as they feel that this is the way to not get themselves distracted. I really pride myself on having ultrafast comms with my clients, so I want to reply a lot quicker than this. Also, if there’s something that needs to be attended to urgently, I feel that leaving it until the end of the day is not ideal if it requires time to action.

However, seeing an email alert pop up can be extremely distracting and I start thinking about that email. So, I have removed the preview banners off my emails so I can’t see what’s coming in.

Sometimes, if I have an important task to do, I like to put my computer on Do Not Disturb mode and concentrate on that task. Only once that’s complete do I allow myself to check my emails.

I also block out time in the day that’s dedicated to email – catching up with the pinned emails or going back through and ensuring nothing has been missed or needs following up on.

Encourage people to send less email

I definitely think I get more emails than the average person, as I do far too many things. But I am trying to cut down! 150+ emails on a daily basis is a lot to handle. Imagine if I allowed newsletters into that inbox too!

One way to manage your inbox more easily would be get fewer emails! But that shouldn’t be in your control, right?! Well, you can definitely encourage less email – think about what types of emails land in your inbox right now.

  • Team emails: encourage your team not to cc you in and empower them with the responsibility to handle things alone. You need to build up their confidence and trust them.
  • Project emails: use a project management system such as Asana and keep communication there so it’s separate from your email.
  • Newsletters: unsubscribe and send to a dedicated email!
  • Questions: can you put more information on your website? Can you create a blog post that answers your most common questions so you can send people that way?
  • Sales emails: these should reduce if you have a separate email, but you will always get people trying to sell something to you. You can also try changing the email you put on LinkedIn, as that’s often where they scrape data.

As you can see, I don’t do anything special to manage my emails, but I stay on top of them each day and I don’t find it overwhelming at all.

Don’t get me wrong, some days there are a lot of emails to reply to! But at least I’m clear about my workload.

If it’s all still too much for you, you may need to hire an admin assistant or a VA 😃.