Zero Inbox???????????

Is it really a fallacy to end each day with ZERO emails? Like Ezra Bulter says in this essay, “No one cares if you have any emails in your inbox. They only care if you’ve seen – and replied to – the email from them. Can’t we at least agree on that?”  So instead of aiming for ZERO, I will use this advice to make a plan to manage my emails better.


Using the time management tool ‘Urgent/importance matrix’, I made my own matrix and filled in how I see my messages:

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 4.38.30 PM


Important/urgent = deal with before I go home

Important/not urgent = deal with asap but can be left

Urgent/Not important = see step 2 below

Not urgent/not important = archive for a rainy day when I have a million hours to read online

2. Does this email need to be sent?

We are all guilty of this one! I love the flow chart. I think many emails can be discussed in person rather electronically. The effect of NOT sending emails means less in your inbox!

































































































































3. Set a time for email

I cannot check my email between 7:25 – 12:10 while the children are in the class. Therefore, when I do check my email, I devote 20 minutes to get through what has accumulated in the morning. But then I spend the afternoon pingponging between work and email. Shawn Carolan on Gigaom suggests blocking a set of time to attend to the emails. So my plan to focus on my urgent/important for a set time afternoon, then attend to the rest once I have cleared these time-heavy emails out of the way.

4. PAUSE your email

Lifehacker suggests pausing your email using boomerang.I think I can do my ‘own’ pause by stepping away from email or closing my email window. Interesting idea though!

What other tips do people use to be more efficient with their emails?


3 thoughts on “Zero Inbox???????????

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I have learned to turn off the volume of my inbox so I don’t hear when I get a new email, that way I don’t have the urgency to go and check what it is. I am learning to be better about sending emails and to whom I send them to. Great flow chart, I definitely need to print it and put it up near my computer so I do remember.

  2. Ha ha….I need to post this next to my computer too. The statistic are interesting; I never thought about how much time is actually spent in life answering emails. I decided to look online for about the Zero Inbox movement and came across Merlin Mann’s original presentation, Inbox Zero , that he delivered to employees at Google. My biggest challenge in emails: the 3 sentence email…will try!

  3. This post was great! Thanks Jen for sharing. I loved the flow diagram, it made me think of all the unnecessary (though entertaining) emails I send when at work. I particularly like the 3 sentence rule! There are a number of culprits that I get emails from that are overloaded with information and usually result in the need for searching for it later when its more pertinent. Classic example of this happened this morning. A teacher (who shall remain nameless) bowled on into the office claiming he/she did not have the required information from another teacher (who shall also remain nameless) needed for an activity starting in exactly 6 minutes. Two points here. 1) The teacher did receive the information and couldn’t find it, or didn’t look properly through their emails (I checked, his/her name was on the email list). 2) The email sent was longer than 3 sentences and had A LOT of information in it so it was probably not read thoroughly in the first place. Some face to face time could probably have prevented this situation.

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