Have you ever seen this?
It’s an empty box. There is nothing inside. Nothing.
It is a rare animal that is closely related to the unicorn and is rarely seen in the wild. This phenomenon has been rare in the last decade. How can you get an email inbox that is absolutely zero?
Email is a monster. It eats up our time, consumes our productivity, and eats away at our sanity. It’s awful.
This list of email hacks brings together the best of email street smarts and unorthodox wisdom to help you actually control the email monster with your two hands.
I don’t claim any dominance over the email monster. To create the image above, I kind of cheated. We’re still learning how to send emails. Me included.
Here are some strategies that you can use to conquer email.
1. Pause your inbox.
(Gmail only).
Inbox Pause is a Gmail extension which prevents email from reaching your inbox. This allows your mind and spirit the freedom to reach new heights of productivity.
Here’s their blurb. It’s beautiful.
Meet INBOX PAUSE – the paradigm-shiftingest, game-changingest email innovation of 2012! Your Inbox has been controlled by others for decades. They can interrupt your flow and take control of what you are doing. You can control when messages show up in your Inbox, and when they don’t. INBOX PAUSE allows you to put new messages on hold. This will make it so that they don’t appear until you are ready. The best part? It works! You can be awesome, instead of being an email bondservant.
“Hold on!” You can hear me saying. “But you’re not really dealing with anything. You are just delaying the inevitable.
That’s okay. You can actually gain control of your email by allowing it to run at its own time. An inbox that is paused keeps you focused on the important stuff and not distracted by the pinging alerts for new email.
To try it, head over to Inbox Pause
2. Inbox zero should be visited at least once per week.
It is the best way to deal effectively with email. This is a method that productivity experts recommend you use every day. This is the best approach, so I give them a thumbs up.
You’ll be frustrated if your goal is too lofty. Try to keep your weekly inbox at zero. Sometimes, you will have to leave messages there if you can’t make it to your kid’s soccer game on Thursday night. Fine.
Try to get it to zero at least once per week.
It will be hard to believe how wonderful it feels.
3. Do not waste your time with folders
Some control freaks are paranoid about organizing their email.
I’m referring to email folders which were so prevalent in the early 2000s. Even if it causes problems with your organizational skills, you shouldn’t waste time putting every email in its own folder.
You can automate the entire tedious folder process instead. Many email programs allow you to set rules that govern which emails should be sent and where they should go.
This feature is available in Gmail. I click on a message from my inbox – More
These parameters allow me to tell Gmail what I want with the message. I can also label it with a specific label (kinda like a folder filter). This allows me to stay organized and not waste any time.
Don’t panic if you don’t have the patience or the organizational skills to create filters. You can archive an email once you’re done with it. If you are really in need of it, your email’s search function will allow you to find it again.
4. OHIO: You can only hold it once.
You should close the email if you have to. Do not keep opening old emails and wasting your time by reading outdated information without doing anything.
You should only open an email once. This is the only time that you should open an email.