Updated: May 12
Hundreds of unread emails. Important messages slipping through the cracks. Delayed communications. Sound familiar? With over 124.5 billion business emails received and sent daily, chances are, you’ve got a mountain of emails that are only becoming larger, too.
So, what’s the secret to managing your email (and your sanity)? To address this, Merlin Mann, a writer, blogger, and podcaster, developed the concept of ‘Inbox Zero’.
Achieving inbox zero can be a very daunting task, and if you’re looking at a very full inbox, you might even say it’s impossible – but that’s not the case at all! Keep reading for 3 clever tricks to hit that seemingly elusive inbox zero.
3 Clever Tricks to Hit Inbox Zero
The idea of hitting inbox zero may seem like a pipedream, but it’s really not! As a virtual assistant for business coaches, online coaches, and other entrepreneurs, I get tons of emails every day, but I still manage to keep my inbox organized.
Below, I list down 3 clever tricks to help you make the seemingly impossible, possible.
1. Incorporate email management into your daily schedule.
Whether or not you fully subscribe to Mann’s Inbox Zero philosophy, it’s always a good idea to incorporate email management into your daily schedule. Literally, include it in your calendar! Depending on your schedule and the volume of emails you receive, this might be an hour at the start of your day or a 10-minute calendar event every afternoon.
So, why should you do this? Can this really help you be more productive? Setting a dedicated time for email management allows you to focus fully on other tasks throughout the day.
2. Don’t let your emails sit in your inbox.
Your inbox isn’t a filing cabinet – don’t treat it like one! When you leave your emails unattended, you’re allowing them to take up space – both in your inbox and in your mind.
According to the Inbox Zero philosophy, your inbox should be a space that’s solely reserved for unread messages. To achieve this, you must process every email you get as soon as you see it. Here’s what you should do:
Do. When an email requires a particular action (i.e. if you’ve been asked to file a report), do what it says immediately, if possible.
Delete. If there’s no response or action required – and you don’t need it for future reference – delete it right away!
Respond. Can you reply to this email quickly? If yes, send off your response as soon as you read it.
Delegate. If the message requires an action or a response but you’re not the best person to handle it, delegate it by forwarding it. For instance, if it's for a specific task that can be best handled by a virtual assistant team like 8point8, don’t be afraid to delegate!
3. Think twice before subscribing (or unsubscribe!).
Receiving fewer emails in the first place is one of the easiest ways to prevent email overload. Of course, this often appears easier said than done. As a professional who receives tons of emails every day that is necessary for your job, it's not always feasible to ‘unsubscribe’ from work-related messages sent to your inbox.
However, you can be more careful about what you subscribe to – and even unsubscribe if necessary. For instance, do you really need to sign up for that newsletter? Or, if a certain subscription is no longer serving you, why not unsubscribe from it? Doing so doesn’t just clear up your inbox, but it can take a load off of your shoulders, too.
The Bottom Line
Did these tips work for you? Do you have any other tricks for hitting inbox zero? Let us know!
Do you still struggle with email and task overload? Work with us and take back your time! As your virtual assistant team, we’re here to help you be more productive – while working less.