By Walter Rogers, USDR Contributor
A “0” Inboxer is an individual that has made the personal commitment to NOT let email run their day. Email has become the most destructive productivity management tool ever invented. It is abused and wastes time in many ways. As new messages come in we tend to stop whatever we are doing to read them, feel compelled to respond to them, and then scan and re-read emails over and over and over again throughout the day. Sadly, 99% of the time there is no need to respond to email right away and more than 50% of emails have no action required at all. Time spent in email is time not spent on productive, high priority activity. The more cluttered an email inbox is, the less productive we tend to be. For many, the inbox has become their “to do” task list with hundreds if not thousands of stored emails. The problem with this approach is that when the inbox is full, we tend to read and re-read the same messages, working on the easy ones and feeding our need for immediate gratification while delaying the more critical action items. “0” Inboxers use email as a communications vehicle, not a task management vehicle. They quickly act on messages, file those that that need to be filed, and use a task list to keep track of required activities eliminating the email from their inbox. “0” Inboxers start and end the day with as near to “0” emails in their inbox as possible. There are just a few fundamental steps to email management.
- Turn off all email alerts that notify you of new messages as they arrive
- Schedule specific time during the day to check email and enter that time in your calendar. When and how often you do this will be determined by your goals and priorities. A minimum condition is to clear email twice per day. At the end of each day before shutting down and before the day starts to handle any overnight activity.
- Move emails out of your inbox as you read them. If there is an action item associated with the email, schedule a specific task in your tool of choice and assign that task to a specific day you will work on it or by due date for the action. The key is to get that email out of your inbox and onto your master task list with a specific date.
- Use extremely specific subject lines on every e-mail. As you send emails, change the subject line for each e-mail you send to say what you want the reader to do.
- One of the most powerful ways to eliminate unnecessary email ping pong is typing the acronym NNTR in the subject line. NNTR stands for “No Need To Respond”. When answering an email, write your answer in the subject line and if you do not need a response simply end the sentence with NNTR. Over a short period of time, your readers will understand what that means and you will cut down your email flow.