Monday, October 18, 2010

Inbox Zero

I read this interesting post this morning about cleaning one's inbox to zero.  The zero inbox concept comes from, and is a central idea, of GTD, which I've been practicing for a year now.  In addition to that, I was already practicing a form of email inbox zero before GTD.

Here's a quick list of how I do it.

  • I use Gmail.  That takes spam out of the picture completely.
  • I use **a lot of filters** in Gmail to filter mail into a lot of labels.  Most of them contain messages that I never read unless there is some reason to.
  • The only mail in my Inbox consists of messages I want to look at.
  • When I read them, if they require some action, If I can do it or reply immediately, I do.  The GTD rule is replies that take less than 2 minutes.  I probably use a rule or more like if it takes less than 30 seconds.
  • Otherwise, I click on More Actions, Add To Tasks, and that email message goes into my Tasks list, which I use for my GTD process.
That's it.  With this approach my INBOX gets, I don't know, I'd guess maybe 100 messages a week.  A lot of them are ads from vendors I actually do care about, so I click through them with just a glance.

I use this same approach for both work email and home email.

In the spirit of Gmail, I don't delete messages (usually).  So far, after using Gmail since it began, that's not been a problem.  The excellent search capability means it's not difficult to find and email message that I may need.