Today we have a guest post by our good friend, Kim McKenzie. Kim is an experienced communications consultant and project manager with over 20 years experience. She specializes in developing instructional programs and materials to assist a variety of growing companies. Working on large deadline-driven projects has meant productivity and efficiency are key to Kim’s successes. In her spare time, Kim enjoys photography, gourmet cooking, and having fun on wheels of any kind! Today, Kim shares her experience and tips for getting your email inbox to zero!
Inbox Zero: To Dream the Possible Dream!
I can’t believe we are well into fall already! Kids are back to school, vacations are over, and now it seems like we are all heads down for another productive and exciting season ahead. For me, part of the excitement of fall is the theater. One of my favorite plays of all time is ‘Man of La Mancha‘. As I was dreamily playing the song ‘The Impossible Dream’ in my head, I started thinking of how my inbox had bulged out while I was on holidays (much like I had!) to a whopping 750 emails! It seemed like an impossible dream to get back to the peaceful and calm place of inbox zero. I knew it was time for real combat, focus and discipline! And I want to share with you what you what I did and how you can use these strategies to deal with email overload.
A Heavenly Cause
First of all, I need to reassure you that the initial effort it will take to set up an effective email management system is really, really worth the work. Trust me on this! Information overload from a variety of sources is a huge challenge and will insidiously eat away at your time and seriously diminish your productivity. You must have a strategy in place and take action every day to protect your personal productivity. For me there would be nothing worse than dreading returning home from my coveted beach vacation to information overload that I know I can never totally get under control, even with good time management habits.
Triage your Inbox
To get to inbox zero, a mindset shift is needed. The key is to remember that your inbox is not a to-do list. Your inbox is the landing zone for new email – a place to triage and quickly sort the good from the ugly, gaining peace of mind knowing that things are assigned to be handled efficiently and effectively.
Effective email management means making the decision once, and only once, about what’s actionable and what’s not. It’s all about getting things done!
The Reachable Star
Here are the key things to remember in your glorious quest to reach inbox zero:
- Set up a system of processing folders that will guide you in your decision making for every single email you receive. We suggest Action, Read and Waiting folders.
- Process email rather than check email. Make sure you ditch the habit of scrolling up and scrolling down – and never actually fixing the mountainous problem.
- Become a hacker! Yes, to achieve that zen-like calm state you will have to say no and delete—in batches. Change your point of view to keep batch-hacking. Look at who they’re from, the email’s subject, and the emails date, and then make your Ninja-like decisions. Do this, and you will return your inbox to zero several times a day.
- Make sure that once opened, an email is never closed and put back in your inbox pending further procrastination. Ever (and that means ever!!).
The system itself forces Ninja-like decisiveness and discipline that’s needed for you to make the difficult decisions about emails as soon as you read them.
Once you have set-up your email system, have acted quickly and effectively to hack your emails, completed the actionable items and reached inbox zero, it’s then time to step outside and have a glass of wine (Chardonnay is my preference) and gaze at the unreachable stars. And even though they will forever be unreachable, you can celebrate reaching inbox zero!
Sounds like a lot to remember? Well, it is until you get used to it. Whether you need one-on-one email training to get up and running on your path to inbox zero, or you’re looking to schedule an Inbox Zero workshop for the whole team, please get in touch today. We will be glad to discuss your requirements and set up a time to meet with you.
Left Wanting More?
Sign up for our How to Get Things Done Public Workshop – November 29th in Calgary
9 email pet peeves! And other tips for proper email etiquette