If you are like me and you absolutely need to reference old emails , to be effective, inbox zero can seem like an impossibility. About a year ago, I set my sights on creating inbox zero every night when I went home. For months, I carefully created folders to house old emails that I needed to keep “just in case” and I slowly went through each item in my inbox and filed away anything that did not require action. I clicked on every annoying advertising email that came my way and checked “unsubscribe”. The items left, all required action in some way and I did just that. I completed LITERALLY everything on each outstanding email. One day, it happened….I hit inbox zero! It was a glorious 5 minutes!
What I learned: I do still try to completely empty my in box ( paper and email) each day but it isn’t achievable every day for me so going home completing as much as I can is all I can ask for. There will always be something to do, no matter what. What I tend to settle on now is inbox 5-10. Meaning that I have 5-10 items that I am currently working on. These include anything long term that I am working on, like a project or anything that requires me to wait for someone else to get back to me on before I can proceed any further on a task.
If it is a small task that takes less than 5 minutes complete. I do it right away and I file it away. Even if there are 10 small tasks. That way they aren’t cluttering up my inbox, stressing me out and it really lets me focus on what actually requires my attention for the rest of the day.
Inbox zero is real, but not realistic daly. Settling on a filing system, and an approach to tackle the never ending email stream was a much more effective tool for me than inbox zero.