- Problems I was having
- What is Zero Inbox?
- How it works:
- How I Did it for Gmail
- 1. Cleaning Up Your Inbox
- 2. At first, you will still have a lot of Junk mail.
- 3. Pick Specific times of Day to Check it
- 4. Thank yourself, you just cleaned up a major part of your life
- EXTRA: Microsoft Outlook - I Also Did It With My Work Email
- Closing - Next Time
I had a big problem in 2022. My email was so cluttered that I would lose emails all of the time. My email account was a dumping ground for all of the things I would sign up for (and this wasn’t even my junk email). I had thousands of unread emails, and I would often ignore my inbox unless I was specifically looking for something.
My work email wasn’t much better. While I had done a better job of creating rules (because my email was necessary for doing my job), it still was a mess. I still missed things in my inbox, and my bigger problem was procrastinating on replying to emails (or not replying at all) because I had no system for managing my email.
It was near the end of the Spring of 2022 when I realized I needed a system that I could easily maintain and utilize for my email.
Problems I was having
- Losing emails in all the junk.
- Running out of space.
- A ton of clutter.
- Hoarding emails.
These problems made it so that I was missing bills, payment reminders, or even offers for DJ services.
The clutter of having so many emails also was making it harder to keep things straight. I often would only focus on the emails I wanted to instead of also working on the emails I needed. It was only serving as another way of me getting distracted.
What is Zero Inbox?
I found this guy on YouTube named Jeff Su who did a tutorial on “Zero Inbox”. I’ve posted that below if you want to follow what he does, but here is a brief overview.
How it works:
The idea is that you should have zero emails in your inbox every time you look at your email, and every time you are opening your email you distribute your emails to 3 different categories:
- Follow Up: Emails I need to take additional action on
- Waiting: Emails that I’ve replied to or am waiting on a response from someone else.
- Read Through: Emails that I want to spend time reading through to understand, but have no action to take.
Note: I also added another folder called “Keep”. This is anything I deem necessary to keep for my records in case I need to recall. This isn’t necessary, but this is how I do it.
- If any email cannot be responded to within 5 minutes or action can be taken, then it needs to go to one of your folders.
- You would then work through your follow-up emails as a “Todo List”.
- When you are finished working on your email or no longer have any action to take, you would then archive all of your emails.
- ADDITIONAL: I added a “Keep” folder for mostly receipts and important documents. I may potentially export these in the future if it ever becomes a problem.
This is what it would look like:
How I Did it for Gmail
1. Cleaning Up Your Inbox
It’s easy enough saying that this is what you want it to look like, but if you’re like me, you aren’t starting with a brand new inbox. For me, I had at least 7 years of emails to work on getting rid of.
The way I tackled this was by using an app called “Chuck”. This will require your phone.
I can’t go over it in detail, but it’s an app that lets you group all of your emails from one sender, and then archive all of them with one swipe.
You could then also group senders that you may want to keep into one folder as well. It is a very handy tool for quickly making mass changes to your inbox. You can always delete it if you don’t find it valuable anymore.
Note: You could always just move emails that are older than a year to your archive. if emails are in the archive, they are still accessible, they just no longer are in your inbox anymore. Just remember, you don’t need as many emails as you think you do.
2. At first, you will still have a lot of Junk mail.
When you first do this, you will still notice a lot of junk mail coming in. However, this should easily identify the mail that you need and don’t need.
I recommend over the next week going through all of these emails and unsubscribing rigorously. It will be worth it, and you will very quickly be on top of it.
3. Pick Specific times of Day to Check it
I recommend only checking 3 times a day. I usually check in the morning, around lunch, and in the evening. The important thing is to rid yourself of the desire to constantly be checking your phone. Instead, focus on treating it as a system instead of a platform to constantly look for status updates.
4. Thank yourself, you just cleaned up a major part of your life
If you successfully implement something like this, you will save yourself tons of hours of your life. I promise that if you successfully implement this, you will start looking for other ways to do this in other areas of your life.
EXTRA: Microsoft Outlook - I Also Did It With My Work Email
I found it a lot harder to find any tutorials on this for Outlook, but the concept is still the same. The idea is to get your inbox to the 3 (or 4) folders and treat emails the same way as in Gmail. The difference is that for Office365-related tenants (like my work email) it is hard to use 3rd party tools to clean up your inbox.
I will create a whole separate article about this in the future as I want to do a deep dive into exactly how to do this.
Closing - Next Time
I plan on talking about how I did this for Outlook/Office 365 again in the future. This was a little more challenging, but it is possible all the same.
The important thing in creating this system is organizing everything. It’s STILL important for you to manage, and requires continuous work. But if you turn it into a habit, you will find it easier than ever to manage your email and stay on top of the important things.
Jeff Su’s video can be found here if you want to try it out for yourself.
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