Inbox Zero: Approach to Email Management

Inbox Zero: Approach to Email Management

Those of you, like me, who’s also having a hard time managing their email inbox, you might also be interested to watch this video. Merlin Mann, a well known productivity guru and creator of the popular 43 folders website talks about Getting Things Done, the importance of getting your inbox to zero, and strategies for dealing with high volume email.


Jeremy Zawodny summarizes the presentation into this list:

  • Delete: just get rid of it (or archive it)
  • Delegate: get someone else to deal with it
  • Respond: if it takes just a few minutes, do it right now
  • Defer: put it on a todo list, archive it, and deal with it later
  • Do: handle whatever the email actually needs you to do

My usual approach for some time now is to “defer”. However, this often puts me in a pickle since the ones I defer always end up being completely forgotten and unanswered for months until I get reminded of it by something else. Manolo even scolded me before telling me to get an assistant to answer my SMS and emails (now that’s pushing it really far :D ).

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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3 Responses

  1. Not sure if -tou_ need an assistantr, Abe, you’ve always been pretty good with answering emails I have sent you, but an emaol assistant is not a bad idea for any busy person who is trying to earn a living mainly in the on line world.

    I posted several times recently in my Philippine blog about this very situstaion here in the Philippines. While it is certainly a problem world-wide, the problem of unanswered emails seems to be endemic here. Thousands and thousands of transactions never take oplace each month because people email to request something and the business which has the item and could use the business just never responds. Hotels and resorts are among the worst in this situation.

    There are many ways to hire a virtual assistant on line, in some cases very economically … or it could be a worthwhile business for someone to think about starting … requires nothing more than a low-end computer and even a dial up connection … just the regularity of response and the capacity to recognize important emails and get them “on the screen” of the people who can make the deals happen.

  2. jhay says:

    Unread mail could really be daunting at times. Especially if you get internet interruption at home, school or work.

    Remember when the Taiwan quake struck? huhuhu

  3. GM Tristan says:

    Catching up on my email is something I do when I can’t think of anything to blog.

    To add to the tips above:

    1. Use the “rules” function in Outlook to automatically sort mail or to delete spam
    2. Make a “later” folder. You’ll know where to find your pending stuff later.
    3. Make it a habit to “attack” your inbox at least 3x a day. I do it mornings, before lunch aand then once in the afternoon.
    4. Reading mail is NOT work. Turn off Outlook and concentrate on actual work, like spreadsheets, plans, forms and meetings.

    Hope this helps on the productivity.


    GM Tristan

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