Taking Your Email Inbox From Ridiculous To Inbox Zero


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Talk given at Aerial Services, Inc. for internal staff training. A discussion of Inbox Zero and how to get your inbox under control using David Allen's GTD methods and borrowing from Merlin Mann's advocacy of Inbox Zero.

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  • -Going to talk about email management today.
    -As many of you know, I have interest in personal productivity
    -Going to share how I have been dealing with email in 2009.
  • >read quotes…

    -And Email is big biz.
    -The number of direct marketing dollars that was forecasted to be spent on email by companies in the USA was $13.4 billion.
    -It works… for bizs, one-on-one contact, etc.
    -So everyone uses it.
  • -So how many emails do you have in your inbox? What is typical?
    -25, 100, 500, 1000+?
    >Raise hands
    -It is probably typical of most people to have more email than they know what to do with in their inbox.
    -So, do you think you could be atypical? ……
  • >Raise hands
  • -I’ll show you today one method which will allow you to accomplish this with some time and disciple on your end.
  • -The trick is a system, a process.
    -I developed a process from reading a few difference books and consuming some online resources.
    -I brought these together into a system that works for me, which you can adapt.

    -My process….
  • GTD:
    -Popular productivity method which goes beyond email.
    -Allows you to dump all your ideas and tasks into a master hopper so you can free up your mental energy for quality thinking.
    -I have been doing this the last year as well to manage my tasks in a more advanced way than when I did my “task management” seminar awhile back.
    -Good ideas for tasks, email, paper files, etc.

    43 Folders:
    -Have mentioned this site before.
    -Merlin Mann is a productivity guru who follows the GTD methods.
    -He has popularized the “Inbox Zero” method I will described today.
    -He is writing a book on the topic, should be good.

    Let me know if you are interested in either of these resources more.
  • -What this is, and what it is not.

    >read points<

    -Happy to discuss any of these topics in the Q&A or personally, but keep in mind during the talk this is not my goal.
  • -There are five steps to this process, first is to get a revised folder structure setup in your inbox.
    -If you have folders already just leave them there, just make these three folders next to them.
    >read folders<
    -The “@” is so these folders always filter to the top of your mail explorer & denote these folders as special.
    >then explain types via chart<
  • -Key to this system is the @Reference system.
    >read points off slide<
  • -This is what it looks like in my email.
    -No old reference on this view, but I promise it is down at the bottom of my list.
  • -You can have an empty inbox in about 30 seconds.
    -Move everything from inbox to Old reference files.
    -You don’t need all those emails now, if you haven't acted on them already and they are X days old, you aren’t going to.

    -That said, we will have you keep some recent emails to file…
  • >read slide<
  • *Delete:
    -No action, no value, no reference value

    -Forward to someone else to do, add comment to

    -Plan for a future date, time
    -Add to cal or your task list

    -Takes less than 2min? Do it
    -If more than 2min, “defer” instead

    -Might be good to keep these options listed above your desk so you don’t forget-
  • Other tips….

  • >read<

    -When not on clock
    -On road (phone only access)

    *Don't let it distract:
    -Turn off "auto-updates"
    -95% of time email can wait an hour (or two)
    -That said, when you have an empty box you can evaluate this better!
  • -Enjoy an empty, processed, organized inbox!

    You’ll can better manager any NEW mail that comes, you won’t be overwhelmed in your inbox.
    You will have an organized reference file to find things.
    You will spend less time dealing with email and more doing other things.
  • -Questions, comments?
  • Taking Your Email Inbox From Ridiculous To Inbox Zero

    1. 1. Taking your e-mail inbox from ridiculous to Inbox Zer
    2. 2. 247 billion emails are sent each day. That's one email every 0.00000035 seconds. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, some 20 million emails entered cyberspace.
    3. 3. How many messages are in your inbox right now? 25? 100? 500? 1000?
    4. 4. Do you think you could regularly have an inbox with zero messages?
    5. 5. Yes you can! But how?
    6. 6. You need a system, a process Here is my process…
    7. 7. I stole borrowed concepts from... Getting Things Done Book By David Allen davidco.com Merlin Mann Inbox Zero Advocate 43folders.com & inboxzero.com
    8. 8. This presentation is not… Not an Outlook tutorial (or any other email program, software, etc.) Not about task management (you missed my previous presentation; ask me about later!) Does not have all the answers (but the ideas are powerful if applied to your situation!)
    9. 9. Step 1: Setup These Folders File Structure @Action @Reference Old Reference What goes where @Action Action need; tasks to-do @Reference A-Z Folders for filing Old Reference Old @Reference archives
    10. 10. Step 1: Setup These Folders (continued) @Reference A-Z folders 1. A-Z makes it easy to find (only can be in a few places) 2. Base folder titles on: • Who • What • Where 3. Yearly start over: • Archive @Reference folders • Start new one, fresh A-Z folders
    11. 11. Step 2: Empty Inbox Magic Trick Move Everything in your inbox Old Reference (over X* old)
    12. 12. Step 2: Empty Inbox Magic Trick (continued) *How far back you want to manually file right now: 1. One week 2. Two weeks 3. No more than month Don’t keep too much! • You need to process whatever you leave in inbox • Done in one sitting (hour or two at most) …but what the heck is processing?
    13. 13. Step 3: Process all new mail Delete (Trash) Delegate (To someone else; add to your Waiting for list) Defer (Add to your Calendar or Task List) Do (Do it now if takes 2 minutes or less)
    14. 14. Step 3: Process all new mail (continued) 1 Only touch email once; decide how to handle 2 Have an external task list; keep task related emails in @Action until task done 3 Archive important stuff to Reference after processed
    15. 15. Step 4: Commit times to process Commit times to process your email daily; such as: 1. Beginning, Middle, End 2. Twice a day 3. Every time you see it Add process time to calendar 1. It appointment, don’t miss it 2. Set a reminder for processing 3. Turn off your email other times (and/or auto-reminders)
    16. 16. Step 5: Rejoice in an empty inbox