Sunday, June 22, 2008

Getting to Email Zero

Following my recent post on Minimizing Work-in-Process for Knowledge Workers, several folks wrote and asked me to write more on getting their email inbox to zero. I put together an outline for such a post.

When I discovered I didn’t need to write anything further.

In Yes, You Can Stay on Top of Email, Michael Hyatt describes all you need know to empty your email inbox. Daily. Yes, daily. Hyatt writes the blog From Where I Sit. As the CEO of a major publishing company, he’s a busy guy who also thinks a lot about process. Long time blogging buddy Frank Patrick clued me to Hyatt’s blog a while back and I’ve come to appreciate his input.

Go read Hyatt’s post. Then, start applying it. Today. Not tomorow. Now. I highly commend his outline. And add two more points.

First, find a way to turn off email. In July 2007, unannounced, I started only sending and receiving emails once an hour at work. I found the way in Outlook to automatically send and receive email once an hour. I write them anytime I need to...but they only go out once and hour. Amazingly, not one single person I work with has asked me about this. For a full year. Now maybe they think I'm a jerk and haven't told me. I suspect, though, it simply hasn't been an issue. In fact, the only way any of them will know I do this is if they read this post! Yes, you can do the same. It really eliminates a LOT of distractions.

Second, find a way to separate personal and business emails. Most of us with regular jobs have a mandated email program for work. So use it. I strongly suggest getting a web-based email for your personal use. I’ve used several and Gmail is my vastly preferred choice.

Don’t let email run your life…get on top of it. Now.

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Matt M said...

You should probably reference Merlin Mann's extensive work on this topic at 43 folders The talk he gave at Google on the subject is great.

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