Today is day 1 of our 5-day inbox zero challenge. Thank you for joining!
There are hundreds of fellow AE fans from all across the world taking this challenge, and we are looking forward to sharing this journey with you.
During the week, we will be posting one new tip each day to help you achieve (and keep) inbox zero. The tips are quick and easy to implement and will provide the framework for you to manage and process your email inbox quickly and efficiently – no matter how many messages you may get in a day.
Imagine having a system you can trust for processing your email that eliminates the fear and dread associated with opening your email application. Picture yourself confident that everything you have to deal with is in the appropriate place so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Who is this challenge for?
This inbox zero challenge is for people who:
- who have anxiety about opening their email because they are ill-prepared to deal with everything they may find there
- don’t have enough time to sit down and develop a systematic solution that would allow them to stay on top of their email
- spend more time dealing with email than they’d like and are looking to get more efficient at it
- want to achieve inbox zero but haven’t in a long time
If this challenge is for you, commit now. Research shows that committing to friends and family about a new ritual helps with follow-through.
Now let’s dive in with the first inbox zero challenge.
Challenge #1: Archive all messages in your inbox older than 30 days in your “Archive” folder.
The first step to the challenge is to archive old emails (anything older than 30 days) in your “Archive” folder so you can work with a manageable number of emails as you go through this challenge.
Why would you want to do this? We have found, from working with thousands of people on their email, that emails older than 30 days don’t make any difference. Whether you reply to them 30 days late or 6 months later, the difference is negligible. It’s safe to assume that you can archive those emails. If it’s important enough to get your attention, the sender will send you another reminder email about it.
Think of it as stripping away the fat and unnecessary emails so you can get more quickly to the core – the truly important emails. They’re the ones that have been sent within the last 30 days. While archiving a bunch of emails isn’t ideal, it’s important that we set ourselves up for success. You see, Inbox Zero is not a one-time event. It’s a state of being which is more easily achievable if you establish a solid system. But you have a much better chance of implementing a system that sticks if you make a few compromises at the beginning that will set you up for success.
Notice I didn’t say delete your emails – just move them to your archive folder. That way you don’t have to worry about losing anything as they’ll still be searchable and you’ll be able to quickly locate anything if you actually do need it in the future. But archiving those messages will give us a much more manageable number of emails to go through as we progress through the challenge.
We recommend you set up one “Archive” folder and move everything in there. If you’re a Gmail user, you can simply press the “Archive” button to get the same effect without having to create that folder.
Congratulations! This may not seem like much, but you’ve now set up the foundational framework for an efficient email processing system. By identifying the storage place of all messages that you ultimately want to keep, you now have a place to put those emails when you’re done with them instead of leaving them in your inbox. In other words, you’ve created a “definition of done” for the emails that come into your inbox as they end up one of two places:
- Your archive folder (if you want to keep them)
- The trash (if you don’t)
Check back tomorrow for Challenge #2, and let us know in the comments below if you’re in!
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