#4 of 7 Reasons to Keep the Inbox Empty
#4: The inbox is NOT your to-do list
The inbox is NOT a to-do or task list – email delivers tasks.
The inbox is simply a holding place for newly arrived messages. It should be visited on a regular (but not constant) basis with the simple aim of making decisions – sifting, sorting and prioritising the latest batch of incoming messages. Put a time limit on how long you can spend going through your inbox. Don’t get caught up reading articles or viewing videos etc at this time (schedule them for later).
Best practice shows that for most people, 4 scheduled blocks of 20-30 minutes each day should be more than enough to turn all your email around within 24 hours.
You need to ‘kill off’ e-mail to get the in-box empty
Again, the aim of visiting the inbox is to process e-mail; to make decisions, not necessarily to respond to each email.
It might help to realise that the word ‘decide’ comes from the family of words that includes suicide, homicide, genocide, pesticide, insectide etc and this essentially means ‘to kill off’. So when you don’t make a decision about an e-mail, you don’t deal with it (or ‘kill it off’) and it stays in the inbox to be revisited and dealt with again at some time in the future. So, you look at it two, three, five, ten or even more times before dealing with it!
The way to ‘kill off’ e-mail the first time you look at it, is to use the 4D method to make a decision. Any e-mail that delivers a task that will take more than approx. 2-5 mins should then be converted into a calendar appointment, rather than a to-do or task list – here’s how (and why).
By adding this new task to your calendar, you make a better quality decision about when to get this task done. You integrate into your schedule and balance it with all the other tasks, commitments and workload you are already managing. This way, it can be dealt with at an appropriate, focused, single-tasking time in the future.
If you don't do it already, try moving an email task out of your inbox and into your celandar today!
If you'd like to know more about the other 6 reasons, you can download a free copy of the 7 Reasons to Keep the Inbox Empty White Paper
Get help from Australia's leading Email Expert!
Why not join me for an on-line Email Coaching session in December (3 dates to choose from). In this session, you learn how to;
- get your inbox empty
- move email tasks into the calendar
- manage workload in one central location
- quickly file and retrieve email
- get more real work done
Please feel free to reply with any comments or questions - love to hear from you!
All the best!