Inbox zero, by Merlin Mann, has been a topic of discussion for various reasons. Its efficiency in helping millions of Gmail users manage their emails has been long proven right. But do we know it all about inbox zero? Most of the information we have on it is either slightly or entirely false. In this article, we dive in to bust all myths and misconceptions and understand the truth of Inbox zero.
What do we think about Inbox zero?
Merlin Mann, the productivity master who conceptualized Inbox zero, meant it to be our solution. This solution was meant to help us disconnect from the constant pings of incoming emails. But this itself has led to a few misconceptions about Inbox zero.
- Having zero emails is inbox zero
It is often wrongly assumed that Inbox zero implies the number of emails in one’s inbox. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having zero emails is akin to deleting all emails at once. As impossible as that approach is, it is also highly impractical.
Having this expectation from ourselves can set us up for disappointment. Keeping a goal of no emails in our inbox would require us to keep replying and deleting our emails all day. This can result in your email management being very stressful. The concept of Inbox zero understands this and hence does not need you to get your inbox to zero emails.
- Constantly managing your emails
Achieving the dream of inbox zero is a dream for most of us, but this dream is very easy to achieve. But some do still think that email management is a matter of micro managing your emails. It is often said that reaching this dream requires constant vigilance of your emails. But this is not what Merlin Mann intends.
Feeling the need to constantly manage your inbox can be very overwhelming. Checking your inbox over and over again to assert control over it, can only lead to more harm. Moreover, the need to focus on email management can cause us to lose focus from the other tasks at hand. This can further lead to lowered productivity.
- It’s all about folders and labels
Email management is so much more beyond folders and labels. Though these tools help in efficient email management, they are not the whole and sole. Focusing only on creating folders and labels is not the solution to efficient email management.
Over categorizing one’s email inbox can make your email management a much more tedious task. Though separating one’s emails into folders can seem like an efficient email management technique, too many categories can spell trouble.
The truth about Inbox zero
Now that we know the misconceptions, let us dive into what inbox zero actually is. Knowing these truths will help you design your own email management strategy.
- Inbox zero is about staying out of the inbox
Inbox zero lets you disconnect from your inbox, while you focus on the tasks that matter. Using the Inbox zero approach, you can stop worrying about your email management problems. It is often noticed that even when we are focused on our tasks, a notification is enough to get us distracted. Email management softwares like Mailman can help you disable unimportant emails with its Do Not Disturb feature.
By staying out of your email inbox, you can focus much better on tasks other than email management. Moreover, defocusing from your ever growing inbox also grants you the much needed peace of mind.
- Managing your emails the least number of times
With Inbox zero, you do not have to micromanage your emails at all. With a set of these tips at your hands, it can be very easy to prioritise your tasks while not compromising on your email management. Even with too many emails at your disposal, it allows you to be on the top of your emails.
The less time you spend managing your emails, the more amount of time you have to take care of other tasks. Plus with the increase in ease of managing your emails, your email management efficiency also increases.
- Scheduling is the key
Like all disciplined methods, inbox zero also depends on its scheduling. Proper division of time to check and focus on one’s email inbox can make email management much easier. Other methods like deep work too are known for their efficiency because of proper time scheduling.
This scheduling can be done with respect to the amount of time spent in the inbox, the number of times one checks the inbox and the amount of time spent to reply to each email. These are some of the key factors that need to be considered to establish a clear schedule for efficient email management.
Inbox zero can contribute heavily to achieving a healthy work life balance. Incorporating inbox zero and its principles, can help you manage your time and productivity in the most efficient manner. Informing oneself about the truth of inbox zero is instrumental to gain mental peace and clarity.