Sunday, February 10, 2019

Inbox Zero or Inbox Infinity? Which Type Are You?

When friends or colleagues celebrate their "Inbox Zeros" I'm thinking, (not saying) really? "Is that how you want to spend (ahem waste) your time? Inbox Zero is so last decade." Interestingly many of the Inbox Zero folks are those who are not the most responsive to emails. The ones you are always circling back to follow up on an email.  

Inbox zero  increased efficiency

Getting your inbox to zero does not necessarily mean you are efficient at work or being a responsive friend or family member. It just means you're good at deleting. It could also mean you have a touch of OCD as you compulsively let your email stress you out.

My approach: Inbox infinity 

My approach is different. It's sort of a Marie Kondo approach. If addressing that email doesn't spark joy, I don't respond. Sparking joy for me translates into responding to emails that need action, are a priority, and those which are best handled via email. This means I respond to about 20% of my emails. Of the emails I respond to, I don't delete and I don't sort.  

What I do instead: Skim, search, star

I skim my emails. If it is one that needs attention, I answer it or star it. After I do, I don't delete it and I don't archive it.  I just leave it. Rather than sort my email, or make rules, I use search or view stars to access emails that need additional follow up.  

Inbox Infinity Can Equal Greater Efficiency

This technique gives me the opportunity to be intentional about how I respond to family, friends, and colleagues. I control my technology, time, and what I focus on rather than the other way around. I also find methods that are more effective than email to communicate. I let those I interact with most know this. Other methods of communication include chat, text and online communities. I also let them know that if an email goes unanswered, it is a good idea to message me instead. I prefer Teams, Facebook, or Twitter for that. 

As a result of this strategy I can do more of what matters in less time then those who obsess and stress about each and every email.

Oh, and if you're wondering what Inbox Infinity looks like, here's mine:

1 comment:

  1. Lisa, interesting perspective. I am very much of the empty inbox camp. It makes it super simple to see when I am "done" with email.

    The "Priority Inbox" view separated the wheat from the chaff. I frequently look at the "Everything Else" section, click the first, click the last one while holding , and delete 50 messages with one click.

    For the emails that are going to take some time, I forward them to my digital task list with an amended subject line that describes exactly what needs to be done and the date I want to handle it. No searching needed for following up. The decision about followup happens on the front end.

    I programmed the "\" key to delete, giving me a better keyboard shortcut than the default and always use the "e" to archive instead of using the mouse. I fly through email and I know exactly when I am done...when it's empty, and it's empty every day.