It has been quite an adventure, but as of this writing, I’ve done it for SEVEN days in a row.
Here are some things I’ve learned during the process.
1. I actually give a damn about tackling my inbox. Email is fun again.
2. I now find that I take care of simple and easy emails right away, instead of letting them linger.
3. And I do a better job of managing the larger, more complicated emails, instead of letting them linger and bury me.
4. It was really hard to do all the work to get it to ZERO. You’re just going to have to do it. Face up to it.
5. You are better off removing, say, 25 a day instead of dealing with it all at once. I suspect most people will quit if they try to do this all at once.
6. But once at ZERO, maintaining is A LOT easier.
7. And yet, email grows faster than rabbits produce.
8. I think declaring email bankruptcy is cheating. But it might be necessary in your case.
9. Finally forcing myself to unsubscribe from a lot of the crap I still haven’t left yet.
10. You lose patience for emails that are unnecessary, such as when someone emails “thanks!” I appreciate the gesture. But stop wasting my time.
11. You lose patience for LONG emails, when short, to-the-point emails are more appropriate. And they almost always are.
12. This has forged a deeper appreciation of my iPhone and iPad, in that my ability to manage emails is simpler and faster with both.
13. Don’t hate me because I manage emails in the rest room. I am more efficient than you. You are the one with 500+ emails in your INBOX.
14. This makes you think longer and harder about signing-up for new mailing lists. And sort of forces you to only join lists that really matter.
15. Despite an “increased” focus on my INBOX, I actually spend less time with email.
16. You realize how much time you waste dealing with all the email notifications from all your social networks. Like me, you’ll shut all that stuff off.
17. You begin to mercilessly mock those that clearly DO NOT have their email in order.
18. This becomes fun.
19. But you grow impatient with those that do not have their INBOX in order, because they take much longer to respond to your email.
20. This isn’t as much fun.
21. And you do learn to be more sensitive to sending someone what they may perceive as a waste of their time, so you become more discerning.
22. This makes you a better communicator.
23. I use gmail, and have ALL my various email addresses forwarded to one place. Through this process, I’ve gotten much better at properly labeling and filing away emails that I need to keep for reference. Gmail makes it very easy to find what you are looking for, when you need it.
24. This is a skill that you NEED to learn. Don’t dial this in.
25. Seeing “ZERO” on your INBOX is the second greatest feeling in the world. So fight like hell to get to INBOX ZERO. It makes life worth living again.
26. Because if you don’t do this, you are just like everyone else…
27. Join my intrepid mailing list. But only if you really want too…
Drawing by Hugh.