I’ve now implemented Inbox Zero. It sure took me a while.
Here’s how I made it work for me:
1. Email that I can take care about directly, I other do, reply or delegate. Then I move them into the Archive folder.
2. I used to have a lot of different folders. It was really boring sorting emails. Now I only have the Archive folder and the super fast search function in Apple’s Mail client.
3. Emails that I can’t answer quickly but requires action later I flag. This makes them visible in the smart mailbox Flagged.
4. After a while I learned that I could actually have two archive folders, one on the computer and one on iCloud. Every once in a while I move archived conversations from the computer to iCloud for safe keeping.
5. I work within my inbox in the morning when I get to work, after long meetings, before I go home etc. But I try not to be in the inbox folder for too long because it’s so boring and not very creative.
6. I set aside chunks of time in my calendar to deal with red flagged type of emails. This is balanced against larger projects that isn’t related to the inbox. This is important, because it’s so very easy to be a slave to your inbox instead of the other way around.
7. If someone’s is sending me a problem to solve, I make sure to probe why they can’t solve the problem themselves. Often times they can, but it was just easier sending the email to me.
8. If someone’s sending me an email that should’ve really been sent to someone else, I then give them the mandate to send it to this person directly.
9. If someone’s sending me a task that doesn’t really belong to anyone, I simply ask them to give me suggestions on how to staff the task.
10. If someone’s sharing tasks with me that aligns with my competence and experience, tasks where I can add serious value in accordance with my role, then I email back saying thank you and that I’m on it so that they can strike the item from their list.