How to Get Inbox Zero in 5 Easy Steps and Stay There

inbox-zeroWe hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving, and if you’re not over the tryptophan yet, may we suggest a coffee IV? That’s because, in case you haven’t noticed yet, business keeps marching along even during the holidays. The problem many people encounter during this time of year is balancing productivity with a seemingly ceaseless onslaught of scheduling conflicts, out of office notifications, and their own plans to get away. With all of this absenteeism and celebration, it’s no surprise that many companies in the B2B space experience troughs that stretch from November to January. The actual surprise is that in spite of the dip in business, it can still be just as hard to achieve Inbox Zero now as it is any other time of the year. Until you read these next steps, of course.

Inbox Zero is a State of Mind

To prevent a self-defeating cycle of disappointment, it’s important to remember one thing about Inbox Zero before you set out to achieve it. Specifically that the satisfaction of seeing a big zero in the new messages folder is fleeting because, as sure as the sun will rise, you will get another email. In fact, the man who coined the term Inbox Zero, Merlin Mann, wasn’t even referring to the actual number of emails you have, but how much attention you give to them when you need to be doing other tasks. That’s a good point to remember when setting out on the task of streamlining your messages so that you aren’t discouraged when you have to start at it again.

Achieving Inbox Zero

Now that we’ve gotten the existential platitudes out of the way, like many of you, I really just like to see an empty inbox. Inbox Zero means I don’t have a growing list of tasks that I haven’t yet addressed. To get to that mythical promised land, and more importantly to stay there, start by taking these steps-

  • Start by unsubscribing to anything you don’t need to read everyday. You know that vacation sweepstakes you signed up for? It probably came with signing up for several newsletters or marketing emails. And really, do you need to know about the latest in flip-flop developments every week?
  • Consider using multiple inboxes. This process is a way to make sure that emails are organized not by the time they arrive, but by the topics or responsibilities they cover. Setting-up multiple inboxes in Gmail is easy, and this guide will walk you through it.
  • Label everything. Even if you aren’t using multiple inboxes, a strong labeling system will help you quickly read, categorize, and archive for later anything.
  • Archive everything. While we’re talking in superlatives, there’s nothing you should need that you can’t keep in archive once it has passed. Emails aren’t your HR department or finance team, so don’t treat them like the place to store everything. If it’s something that is so important that you have to access it all the time, consider using Google Drive or just saving it on your device.
  • Try ”Yesterboxing.” This is the term that Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gives to the process of deferring opening one new message until he has opened 10 of his older messages. This is a good way to make sure that whittling down or staying on top of the ever-growing list of emails.

Then Inbox Zero Everything Else

Voicemail is another area that can get backed up before you know it, so take the same approach with that inbox to avoid similar frustration. Do that by employing tools like Auto Attendant and a Virtual Receptionist to make sure that, if you’re unavailable, callers are directed to someone else in the organization who can help them. Or, even better, try employing an intelligent call forwarding system like Follow me Calling that can direct business calls to any other device you want.

By following these suggestions on how to achieve Inbox Zero on all of your devices, you can unclutter your workday, everyday. Plus, because you can access both your email and your business phone from any smartphone, now you can be connected to all of your business communications no matter where your travels take you during the holidays and beyond.

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