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Career help for email is an important topic with the rise of technology. What is the total number of emails you get during the day? Do you have several email accounts? I have many emails and accounts and managing them all is nearly impossible. I have found the best tool for inbox zero which was a pipe dream for me in the past.
Let me start by defining inbox zero if you haven’t heard of it. It essentially means that you do not keep items in your inbox as a to do list. Essentially there are four options you have each time you get an email:
- Trash it
- Schedule It for Work
- Reply right away
- File It
You should delete emails you don’t need as fast as possible. There are two types of trash. The FYI only that once you read you can trash. Then there is junk mail that you need to unsubscribe or block from the list.
Schedule it for work
I will make a recommendation towards the end of the article how to best do this, but basically this is what everyone leaves in their inbox. This is the to do items. Some people move it to an external list like Wunderlist or a notebook. There is a better way.
Reply Right Away
First of all, the two minute rule. If it takes less than 2 minutes then respond immediately. Now there is a catch to this one. If you are checking your email every two minutes then you are never getting anything big done. What you should do is schedule time during the day to check your email.
If you will need to reference it later then you can either store it in folders. To be like me you could use a premium service like Evernote. To file an email, a user just forwards the email to the address provided by the application. You can search for the email in Evernote once you have forwarded. If you have the app and are premium you can search it anywhere, even offline.
So how do I do it:
Schedule Email Time
Reserve a few half hour periods during the day to check your emails. If you can do it it two minutes do it, otherwise schedule it to work on later.
Remove Yourself from All Unnecessary Emails
All those emails are trying to make you a victim of consumer advertising. Don’t be the victim be the advertiser. Unsubscribe or auto-delete. Use search folders in Outlook or rules in Gmail to auto route those “optional” emails to review if you want to look at marketing emails.
Schedule your emails for work
Eliminate your to do list. Don’t use your outlook email box as a to-do list keeping thousands of emails in there that you need to check off. Forget the stupid Tasks feature that will annoy you with meaning less reminders. You should use a service called followup.cc which allows you to forward an email and then it will later send it back to you when you have time to work on it. If you don’t have time to work it there are options. You can snooze that email for later if when you get that reminder you don’t have the time to work on it.
You, like me, have to form a disciplined approach and have the right tools to get to inbox zero. Taking action only if it is minimal and a solid approach to scheduling work so that it pops in your inbox when you have time to do it.
Put email on your schedule instead of letting it run you!