Today is day 1 of our 5-day inbox zero challenge. Thank you for joining!
This challenge is here to give you two things:
- show you an approach to email that will reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox (we’re shooting for an hour or less)
- give you the tools that will help you process all your emails every day without the stress
There are thousands 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 Escape Your Email. By Friday, you’ll know how to spend less time in your inbox and more time doing the things that really matter to you.
The depressing trend of email overwhelm
It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when people actually looked forward to receiving email. Re-watching the movie “You’ve Got Mail” with my fiancé Nikida reminded me that email really did start out that way.
You didn’t need a system because you didn’t have over 100 new messages a day to wade through. 1996 was the first year more email was sent than paper mail. Since then, workplace email usage has exploded.
And the problem is only getting worse. For some people, email is turning into their full-time job. Unbelievable, but true. A recent McKinsey report showed that as much as ¾’s of an information worker’s time is spent on or in email.
And an Adobe Systems survey found that the average worker spends 6.5 hours each day just checking for new emails.
With this Inbox Zero challenge we want to help you get to an empty inbox. We’re all overloaded by emails and unless we do something about it, it’ll only get worse. So let’s start this fall on a high note by clearing out the email inbox.
Who is this challenge for?
This challenge is for people who:
- have always wanted to clear their email but didn’t feel motivated to do so
- 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) to your “Archive” folder. Archiving your past due/spoiled/rotten/overripe/moldy/expired emails will give a manageable number to work with for this challenge.
Inbox Zero Question: Should you read these emails before archiving them?
Inbox Zero Answer: No.
Why would you want to do this?
We have found, from working with hundreds of people, that emails older than 30 days don’t make any difference. Whether you reply to the email 30 days late or 6 months later, the repercussions are negligible. If it’s important enough to need your attention, the sender will send you another reminder email about it.
Think of this mass archive as stripping the fat so you can get to the core – the truly important emails. They’re the ones that have been sent within the last 30 days. While archiving a heap of emails at once isn’t ideal, it’s important that you set yourself up for success.
You see, Inbox Zero and Escaping Your Inbox is not a one-time event. It’s a state of being which is only achievable (in 2016) if you establish a solid system. You will have a better chance of implementing a system that sticks if you a take a few shortcuts in the beginning.
It’s like using a spotter or pull-up bands before you have the upper body strength to do pull-ups on your own.
These shortcuts will give you the chance to build up your email muscle. As a more powerful email user, you’ll no longer be forced to archive unread or unanswered emails in the future.
Archive ≠ Delete
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.
The emails will still be searchable. You’ll be able to quickly locate the archived message if you need it in the future.
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 a new folder.
Archiving your 30+ day old emails may not seem like much, but you’ve now set up the foundation for an efficient email processing system.
By identifying the storage place for all messages that you want to keep, you now have a tucked away 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 what it felt like to archive all those emails!
If you’ve haven’t entered the challengeyet, do so here:
Enter the Inbox Zero Challenge Giveaway
Get a chance to win these prizes and receive daily emails for the Inbox Zero Challenge:
You’ll be eligible to win prizes and if you send us a screenshot of your empty inbox, you’ll have a chance to win even bigger prizes.
More Email Tips
If you want more tips and hacks for dealing with email, make sure you subscribe for updates on the Escape Your Email. We have an email system that allows you to spend only 30 minutes a day on email. Sign up here and we’ll let you know when it’s available.
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