For the first time in years I have a true inbox Zero on GMail. I’ve been reorganizing my GTD (Getting Things Done) system and decided I should attack my email habits. I used to keep some important or waiting-for messages using the priority boxes of Gmail. And they were always visible.
Today I set up two new labels to use them as an action list and clear the clutter:
- @To-answer calmly: For e-mails I have to answer that will take longer than 5 minutes.
- @Waiting-reply: For those messages I am waiting for a reply so I can track them later.
All the rest gets deleted, clipped to Evernote (if it is something that will require starting a project or some action outside Gmail) or archived under one of my reference labels on Gmail. I sometimes clip to Evernote messages that I want to keep as References and that can be linked to any of my ongoing projects (support for projects).
I was inspired by the GTD Evernote for Windows setup guide by David Allen Company, 2017 edition. The guide gives two options:
- Use the e-mail as the reminder: This is my choice, meaning that the e-mail is also an action bucket that has to be checked regularly and acted upon.
- Use next action notebooks in Evernote or the calendar as the action reminder: This option only keeps the e-mail as a reference folder, and all the required action are registered into your next action folders.
And I even changed my Gmail theme to celebrate! I’ve always used the classic theme with no images. Now I have a reason to keep my inbox zero: I want to see the beautiful landscape with nothing over it!
- I no longer re-process and think over the same e-mail message more than once. When I had read messages lying around in my inbox I used to open them again to see what they were about and got a bit lost inside the mess.
- I no longer let e-mails pile up. I keep it clean and tidy!
- I check my Inbox less. I am not a person that works all the time with e-mail, so I can have the luxury to check my e-mail only a few times a day. Before this change, I compulsively checked my Inbox waiting for some news, kinda like what we do scrolling down social media. This compulsive behavior disappeared!
So, I encourage everyone to test some kind of Inbox Zero strategy to see it if works for you! I’ve never truly implemented it because I thought I didn’t need it!
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