Ever since I started working in IT management I’ve been struggling to cope with the number of emails I get on a daily basis. I tried several approaches like ‘Getting things done‘ an action/task management system by David Allen or other less famous methodologies I found (e.g. on Lifehacker) just to stop using them right the next day for one simple reason: they were all way to complicated for me. I’m not saying that GTD or the other methods are bad, they are just not mine.
The basic ideas are always mostly the same:
- your Inbox should stay more or less clean
- emails are moved into sub folders (according to a system of more or less flexible categories)
- you have to review the inbox and the sub folders on a regular basis (once per pay / week / month / etc.)
Sounds pretty easy, right? First of all I wasn’t capable to stick to the ‘at 9:00 am you spend 30 minutes cleaning up your inbox’ ritual and I also struggled to go through the GTD workflow in order to determine what to do with the email I’m currently reading.
A few weeks ago my Mail.app was struggling with my 15000+ items in my Inbox and I was looking for another application to replace it, when I stumbled upon an article written by Pierre Wizla called
Turning Mail.app Into the Best Mac Email App. First I started reading a few articles about iZero or Inbox Zero from 43 Folders “Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.” that really inspired me to get rid of my email problem once and for all. Equipped with this inspiration I started implementing the recommended Smart Mailboxes and shortcuts to the flagging mechanism suggested in the article. I spent the next 1.5 hours to go through all my 1500 unread emails (mostly newsletter, spam, but unfortunately also some important mails), deleting and
flagging like a mad man and for the first time in ages I felt the zen-like feeling described in Inbox Zero… simply amazing.
Is there any email in your inbox right now that you read but you haven’t done anything about?Merlin Mann
The next day at work it was super easy for me to remember the rules behind the system, distinguishing only between trash, archive, reply and follow up. I only had to remember two shortcuts (alt + command + r for reply and alt + command + f for follow up) and the rest of the work was automatically done by the Smart Folders.
I’m sticking to the system since four weeks and I never felt more productive in terms of my emails. Colleagues I passed the article on are also really happy with it and I recommend this method to anyone who, like me, is struggling with a huge amount of important emails.