Photo by swardraws
Two beautiful sights. First from my iMail client:
Notice the lack of a number next to ‘Inbox’? That means it’s EMPTY. No emails.
And now for GMail:
Three wonderful words.
Empty all e-mail inboxes. Check.
Now it’s time to devise a workable system that will prevent umpteen-jillion emails sitting in my in-box. I’ve read a few great articles (posted below), and I’m taking everyone’s advice and trying out Gmail as my main email client, even though it’s on the web. Their reasons convinced me it’s worth at least a shot.
I’ll give my plan a solid two weeks to see if it works. I know it’s good to give a new habit at least a month before moving on to another one, but my problem hasn’t really been email addiction. It’s been sheer laziness and busyness.
So if I see my in-box piling up after two weeks, I’ll either rework my plan, or keep at it before moving on.
Here’s my plan:
1. Don’t even read new emails unless I have the time to give them a maximum five sentence reply. Leave them unread.
2. Sit down to read emails only three times a day, 30 minutes at a time. Morning, afternoon, and evening. Close Gmail when I’m done.
3. If an email can get a five sentence or shorter reply, go ahead and respond immediately, and then either delete or archive it.
4. If it needs a longer reply, tag it as “Reply ASAP” and get to it within 24 hours. Even if it means telling the emailer “I’m really busy, but I plan to write you a response just as soon as I can. Thanks for being patient.”
5. Archive or delete all emails so that my in-box remains empty. Use tags to categorize the archived emails.
An empty in-box lessens visual stress. When there are fewer messages shouting for my attention, my devoted time to reading and responding is much more efficient. I’ve got more time to work on cleaning the kitchen, doing Pilates, or making play-doh for my kiddo.
And I’d rather spend my time doing those things.
Here are some excellent motivators to slay the email dragon:
- 4 Steps to Banish Email Clutter – from Think Simple Now
- 10 Steps to Become an Email Ninja – from Four Hour Work Week
- How Managing Emails Can Be Like Picking Up Toys – Official Gmail Blog
- Email Zen: Clear Out Your Inbox – Zen Habits
Do you have a workable email solution for simplifying your day? I’d love to hear it.