I love Inbox Zero. Elation is the only work that I think I can use that comes close to describing the feeling of seeing my inbox totally empty. Two weekends ago, I posted “my own personal failblog” from a fog of feeling overwhelmed and tired. Last weekend, I took the bull by the horns and spend two days ruthlessly clearing my inbox. I started Saturday morning around 7:30 and Sunday afternoon around 4:30, I hit inbox zero. Disclaimer – I slept, ate, did laundry, and located a roll of masking tape my husband needed.
So, a week later, it’s Sunday again. Guess what! The inbox is still empty. It has been empty each night for a week. It can be done. And, in case you are wondering, I received 396 emails this week.
So, how did I manage that? Back to David Allen’s Getting Things Done and a few simple rules.
- Do it now. Different people use different numbers for how long a “do it now” task is – usually 1-3 mintues. I don’t really put a number on it, just “a few.”
- Stop procrastinating. I had gotten particularly bad at putting off tasks for all manner of reasons. I didn’t have enough time on had to do it right. I was stuggling with how to handle that email response. I needed to write but was having a low-creativity day. I needed information I didn’t have. I was waiting for someone to be back from vacation. Now – do it, delegate it or schedule it.
- No “To Do’s” in the inbox. If it is in the inbox, you have to think about it every time you open the inbox. If it is a to do, either do it or get it into the tasks list and scheduled do be done.
So, I’ve managed a week with these rules helping me to keep an empty inbox. Its a really nice feeling. I’ve actually gotten to the end of my emails and my tasks a couple of times this week and found myself looking forward on my list to see if there’s anything I can do in advance. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t possible two weeks ago. Let’s see how long I can keep this thing going.