Five Ways to Get to Inbox Zero
How many unread emails are sitting in your inbox? Is it 1, or 20, or are we talking hundreds? There's no one-size-fits-all solution to inbox organisation, but that big "UNREAD" number is a common annoyance. So how do you really get to inbox zero?
Hailing from the office space industry, email is one of UBC's main sources of communication. Our staff and clients use email on a regular basis, so we have plenty of experience in this field of communication. And because customer service is our No.1 priority, we can't afford to let client emails linger unanswered.
So we've rounded up a few of our favourite tips to help you climb that seemingly infinite email mountain. If you have any suggestions of your own, let us know - we'd love to hear your views.
1. Do It During Downtime
It's frustrating when you spend hours replying to emails, only to leave the office feeling like you've achieved nothing. So instead, you could use it as an activity when you're at your least productive. Whether that's first thing in the morning, or straight after lunch, or even at home on a Thursday night - find 'your time' and go for it.
2. Set Up Labels or Folders
Get organised. Set up folders with relevant labels, and sort incoming emails into specific folders. If you're still working on a project and you don't want to delete the emails corresponding to it, simply file them under the right label. That goes for personal emails too - and for everything else, a 'Stuff' folder usually does the trick.
3. Then Lay Some Ground Rules
Once you've set up folders, your next job is to create automated rules that push incoming emails straight into the relevant folder. You can choose whether to sort emails based on elements like subject or sender. They'll still be unread, but at least they'll be out of your inbox and properly archived. That's a step in the right direction.
While we're on the subject of rules, why not set yourself a time limit for answering emails? Let's say 2 minutes. That means no long responses from you. If it requires a lengthy response, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting would probably be more appropriate.
4. Try a Trusty App
When it comes to email organisation, there really is an app for that. There are tons of them, each serving a different purpose. From Spark and Airmail to Inbox by Google, head over to the app store and see what's most likely to work for you. For a handy overview, this quick guide summarises some of the best email management apps on the market today.
5. Think Quickly
Rather than languishing over email content, approach the task with warrior-like efficiency. Decide quickly whether you need to respond or not, and if it's a yes, get it done as quickly as possible. Investor Bill Liao has a three-step approach. He immediately sorts incoming emails into one of three categories: Answer now, Read and delete, or Star for later. This allows him to keep things moving without deleting potentially important messages.