Inbox zero was a phrase coined by Merlin Mann to epitomise email efficiency. Now it is regarded by many include Mann as perhaps a way to waste time yet still feel like you are working hard. However at this time of year we can all profit from spending a little time de-cluttering and getting ready for the new year. In this context reaching ‘inbox zero’ makes an excellent goal. Here are five quick ways to clean and de-clutter your inbox to reach inbox zero over the festive season
By now you should have a relatively clean inbox. If not – simply declare Email Bankruptcy.
Still too many emails in your inbox and no place to put them? Why not ask Mesmo Consultancy to run a Smart Email Management Masterclass in the new year?
Email is over 30 years old and hasn’t changed that much since its inception. But over the years we have been letting it take over our lives. It started out as a basic electronic messaging system, and we now use it to communicate everything – from the simplest to the most complex messages. This blog reviews some of different approaches to managing email overload and their pros and cons, including inbox zero and the goldfish techniques.
Published in The Guardian November 2017
For the last five years, Inbox Zero was the holly grail for many who wanted to save time dealing with email. But did it really help and reduce email overload? Is your business email etiquette and social media footprint helping or hampering your chances of a new job? How quickly can you spot fake news? These are some of the topics we highlight for this month.
1. What is the best way to manage your inbox and email overload? Over the years many different approaches to email management have been touted as the salvation for everyone suffering from business email overload. These include Inbox zero which many pursued as the holy of grail of business email management. Now Merlin Mann its inventor doubts its effectiveness and suggest that it might indeed be a complete waste of time. So what are we left with, the sledge hammer or goldfish approaches? In this Guardian guest blog, Monica reviews the options.
2.Eight email (etiquette) mistakes which bug your colleagues. Adding kisses and emoticons, not including a greeting and informal content are just some of the things you might be doing with email which annoys your colleagues. This is what a recent study by CV-Library revealed. Sending emails well out-side normal office hours is also very annoying. None of this is new but these are also business email etiquette habits which might be costing you your next job (including when emailing recruitment companies).
Check your business email etiquette using the Mesmo Consultancy on-line analytical tool. It is so easy to fall into sloppy habits as we work under increasing time pressures. Make sure this is not happening to you and that your business email etiquette is not jeopardising your next job. For more tips see the Mesmo Business Email Etiquette video the Five S Formula for Writing Effective Emails.
3. Deep clean your internet activity. Yes, the first port of call for recruiters is often the internet. What will they find out about you? Old social media posts which you forgot to remove. One of us was recruiting for a CEO. After finding information about a potential candidate they phoned a business associate who might know more. Yes, you guessed, the candidate did not make it past the first round. You cannot remove all the content for example reputable news content. However, you can clean up your social media posts as this article explains.
4. Corporate leaders: keep your Yammering in check. It is not just the Millenials and Snowflakes that need to be mindful of what they post on the web. CEOs too can sometimes wreak havoc with their posts as Jean- Sébastien Jacques CEO of Rio Tinto found. It is easy to get carried away by the ease of posting and one’s own self-importance. In the process as Mr Jacques and others have found they can reveal too much personal information and sensitive data which causes mayhem. On the other hand there is a line of thought which says there is no such thing as bad publicity. It’s a very fine dividing line as these articles have demonstrated and which need treading with great care and attention.
5. Spotting fake news. Pre the web, we used to say there are lies and dam lies. We were taught to study the statistics used and look for inconsistencies etc. Whilst this is still a vital skill, the challenge is how to spot news on social media which is fake. Here is an excellent concise guide on how to do it.
About to take a few days out of the office? Here are give top tips to avoid coming back to a chronic attack of business email overload.
You should just be left with emails needing attention on your return. You could be bold and move these too into a folder ‘awaiting action’. Now you have an empty inbox. How does that feel? To keep the inbox clean and de-cluttered see item 4.
Now go off and relax safe in the knowledge that you have taken adequate precautions to reduce a chronic attack of business email overload.
Holidays are meant to be a time to relax and unwind. However, 80% say that dealing with the holiday email backlog is one of the most stressful aspects of being on vacation according to a survey conducted by Mesmo Consultancy. This is not surprising when you realise that most business people (and especially executives and PAs) feel that at least 50% of the emails they receive are unnecessary. One survey recently put it as high as 75%. Little wonder dealing with the holiday back log can seem quite daunting.
It does not have to be that way. For those just back from leave and who did not either adopt Mesmo Consultancy’s email detox plan, or take David Grossman’s email free vacation pledge) here is a tried and trusted five point plan to reduce the holiday email backlog and quickly reach inbox zero.
Spending the first hour talking to your colleagues will help you discover far more rapidly what is high priority and needs your attention rather than trawling unprepared through your inbox.
When you tackle the inbox set aside a specific block of time (eg 3 hours). Group your emails by person, subject, date etc. Use the conversation view (threads) to see the whole picture before replying too quickly. You may even feel you want to reply only to the emails sent to you rather than where you are Cc’d.
As you open each email, handle it once and once only. Avoid scanning emails and then having to go back as this wastes time. Action each selected email as you read it using the four Ds principle; deal, delete, delegate or defer action. In the latter case flag/mark it for attention and tell the sender when they can expect a reply.
Still too much email, then declare email bankruptcy. You can be very sure that if an email was that important the sender will soon re-send it once they realise you have not responded.
What ways have you found useful to have a clean inbox and reach inbox zero after being on vacation?