¿Quién no desea tener cero mensajes pendientes en su cuenta de correo electrónico? Interesantes reflexiones las que he encontrado en un artículo en LinkedIN. Tal y como se afirma en el artículo: "Declaring that you’ve reached “inbox zero” is a status symbol of productivity in the modern workforce."
Pero este estado es temporal, transitorio, fugaz... Una vez que hemos conseguido tener nuestra bandeja de entrada a cero... ¿Cómo mantener este estado de paz con tu bandeja de entrada?
It’s the new, “I just cleaned out my closet and donated 5 bags of old clothes to Goodwill.” Something to be admired, aspired to, and bragged about. Like cleaning out your home, clearing out your inbox feels great - like you’ve cleared your debts, decluttered your existence, and you no longer owe anyone anything. You can breathe a bit easier. At least for a minute or so, until another email comes in, and you’re no longer at inbox zero.
Unanswered emails weigh on the soul. I know that sounds melodramatic, but when you know you have hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of unread messages, and you know people are waiting for responses, it can weigh on you and make it difficult to truly ever “unplug.”
It’s hard to motivate yourself to take on such a daunting, overwhelming task on your own. I procrastinated for months cleaning out my garage at home. But this weekend, when my husband turned to me and said, “Let’s have a garage cleaning party!” it suddenly became a fun, social thing. We drank beer, played music, and laughed about random old stuff we found. Just like that, cleaning our home and getting rid of our junk didn’t feel like a chore anymore.
So why not apply that philosophy to taming your inbox?
Gather a group of colleagues after-hours at work or invite a few friends over to your house and block off a few hours for an “inbox cleaning party.”
Bring out the wine, blast a great playlist, vent about how you hate drowning in email – and then focus the next few hours on clearing out as many messages as you possibly can, while sharing funny messages you find, or pro-tips you discover along the way.
A few suggestions right off the bat:
- Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters or sites you may have accidentally subscribed to by forgetting to uncheck that pesky box when you created an account on the site.
- Remove yourself from any groups, lists or coupon sites that send you messages every day. A message a day will clutter up your inbox rapidly and you can very easily search for coupon codes and discounts online, even without the daily email barrage.
- Create filters and folders that will automatically sort your messages as they come in.
- Turn off email notifications: do you need to get an email every time someone tags you in a photograph, or about every single flight deal heading to Hawaii? Go to the various websites you have profiles on, go to settings, and opt out of email notifications.
I recently hosted an inbox cleaning party with a few friends. While sifting through my inbox, I kept running into the same types of emails that I had been waiting to delete.
Here are the toughest types of emails to delete and what to do with them.
1) Emails that you hate having to say no to.
You know the email I’m talking about. A colleague asking for a favor or an introduction. A family friend asking if you can pass their resume along. An organization asking you to sponsor their event.
If you’re having trouble saying no or declining something and that’s why the email has been sitting in your inbox, consider having a friend or colleague draft a response for you. Sometimes it’s easier for someone who isn’t emotionally tied to the response to craft a reply.
One colleague recommended drafting up a few quick auto-responses for common things people ask, so you can just cut and paste away.
I encouraged everyone on the team to create a folder called "It's okay to say no" - I was having a lot of guilt saying no to people and was letting requests pile up in my inbox. Responding to those emails and then moving them out of my inbox lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.
2) Messages that aren’t urgent, but will need a reply in the future.
It can be too easy to forget about an email once it moves off your first page of messages.
I made a folder called "People to reconnect with" because I found I was saving emails in my inbox from people who I eventually wanted to respond to, but didn't need to email back right away. This cleared out a lot of space.
3) Emails that make you feel good, but don’t warrant a response.
Finally, I created a "Go me!" folder — I know that sounds shallow, but there are so many bad vibes online sometimes that it's important to have a pick-me-up folder of positive vibes from people that you can look at when you're having a bad day.
Once you get to inbox zero, how do you stay there?
There are lots of apps, organizational tools and articles out there to help with this, but unfortunately the only real answer lies within you and your personal discipline. You can pay for a Weight Watchers subscription, but unless you’re diligent about exercising and eating well, the pounds are going to pile right back on. Likewise, your key to inbox sanity is regular maintenance and focused work.
But there are ways to work smarter. For example, try limiting e-mail time to a few hours a day only, and try to check email only a few times a day. It actually makes you more productive to block off focused times of the day dedicated to correspondence, instead of constantly checking and procrastinating.
Most importantly, cut yourself and others some slack. You are not just an email-answering machine, you are a human being with a life. Well, most of us are, anyway…
For more reference, here’s a great NYTimes Article that talks about taming your inbox.
Now, how do you stay at inbox zero?