The term “inbox zero” is widely used as a catch-all strategy for email management. But according to the independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster who first coined the term, Merlin Mann, the idea behind this common strategy has been widely misinterpreted since its introduction in 2014. In fact, recent statements have implied that ‘zero’ doesn’t refer to the number of emails in your inbox, but rather the amount of time or effort spent in your inbox.
The world has changed since 2014, and with the global migration to remote work, so have our inboxes. Communications that used to happen face-to-face, when passing in the hall, or by quickly picking up your desk phone, have almost all defaulted to email. As a result, this has led to inbox overload for the majority of working adults.
The danger of these overloaded inboxes in many situations is irrevocable and have resulted in missed deadlines, last-minute fire drills, lost opportunities, inefficiencies, and lost revenue. These stress-triggers and critical errors occur because the ACTION REQUIRED – URGENT emails are commingled with the email invitation to your neighbors holiday barbeque. Your brain has to work too hard to organize and prioritize the communication.
While the idea of clicking delete all and watching the number of unread emails decline to “Inbox Zero” may seem satisfying at certain moments, zen over zero is a realistic and achievable goal for anyone who’s heart starts to flutter when they open their inbox first thing each morning.
How Can I Achieve “Inbox Zen”?
A peaceful inbox includes organization, strategy for action, and a lack of surprises. Certainly we have all experienced the chemical reaction that occurs in your brain when you’re reading through emails and recall one that demands an urgent, possibly overdue, action on your part. In many cases, this emergency and stressful situation is often caused by our own disorganization or ineffective methods in managing our inboxes. These urgent intrusions steal your zen and make your inbox a minefield of emotional surprises.
Finding peace while you interact with your inbox doesn’t mean spending zero time worrying about email, but rather means that you have dedicated, intentional time to address each email in an appropriate way, and while some actions take more or less time with more or less urgency, surprises aren’t going to steal your peace.
Choosing the right time to dedicate to this task is also an important part of achieving “Inbox Zen.” For example, your human-nature and multitasking addiction may cause you to want to check your email while your waiting to pickup a prescription or during half time of the big game, but if you don’t have the time or the desire to logically act upon an email during that time, you are setting yourself up for a disrupting surprise.
What’s the end goal here?
Ultimately, achieving “Inbox Zen” means that email is serving its purpose – a helpful communication tool between individuals who need to interact. It’s not something you avoid like the plague, it’s not a trigger that you have to psych yourself up for before you dive in, but it is an organized and easy to navigate bank of communications that serve a purpose in your day-to-day operations.
Here are some down-to-earth statements that all of us could benefit from reminding ourselves about the true purpose of email.
If you haven’t made the time to read that weekly newsletter in the past 3 months, is it adding any value to your life or your in box?
Signing up for a free trial means daily sales emails for the rest of eternity. Think twice or use a different email.
I’ll respond to that later (without a purposeful strategy) is one of the biggest lies we all tell ourselves.
If you’re ready to achieve the realistic goal of “Inbox Zen” and learn how to spend purposeful and intentional time with your inbox so that it serves you the way you need it to, sign up for a free webinar to learn more about the ARTT™ Email Productivity course. I will personally introduce a new way of thinking about email, show you step-by-step how to conquer your inbox, and build a routine that causes less stress and allows you to get more done each day.