An average person today spends 13 hours/week processing email – that’s 30% of our working time spent on a completely reactive activity! And “doing email” is only in your job description if you’re doing customer service
Inbox Zero is not just “having no emails in your Inbox”, its’ also a process for how to achieve that state consistently. There are only 5 possible actions for each email in your Inbox: Delete (or Archive), Delegate, Defer, Respond or Do (actual work)
The Inbox Zero process takes lots of discipline, but there are some hacks. Here’s how you can get to Inbox Zero every day easily with some help from SaneBox:
If you can tell by the subject line and sender that the email is not important – just delete or archive it without opening. It’s critical to process unimportant messages in bulk. It will not only save you countless hours, but will preserve your sanity.
SaneBox filters unimportant emails into the SaneLater folder, where you can scan them briefly, move the ones that deserve attention back in your Inbox and hit “delete all” or “archive all”. Your Inbox is saved only for important emails.
Pro tip: If you never want to hear from the Sender again, drag that email to SaneBlackHole and all future emails will go straight to trash. It’s like unsubscribing, only easier.
If there is a poor sucker who can deal with some of your emails – by all means, forward it on. But how do you know for sure if they get it done? One helpful tool is Sanebox’s SaneReminders feature. Just BCC firstname.lastname@example.org (or email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org or any other timeframe), and if you don’t hear back from the them by then, we’ll send you a reminder.
Pro tip: Add “keep” to the address (email@example.com) and you’ll get a reminder whether or not you get a response.
Super pro tip: CC the reminder address instead of BCC’ing it for additional pressure.
If an email is not urgent, or not actionable until later, most people tend to leave it in the Inbox. It forces you to subconsciously pay attention to that email every time you see it, which is terrible for productivity. SaneBox’s Snooze Folders help with this too. Just drag an email to SaneTomorrow, and it will reappear in your Inbox tomorrow morning as unread. You can also create folders to hold emails until next Monday, or any other time frame. (Or you can also just forward it to a reminder address same as above and we’ll put it at the top of your Inbox when the time comes).
If an email is really urgent, or if a response will take under 2 minutes, reply right away. Don’t postpone or waste time thinking of what to do with it. SaneReminders come in handy here too if you need to make sure the recipient gets back to you by a certain time.
Pro tip: Our Reminders are really quite magical – they work anywhere you send emails the same way (on your phone as well as desktop), and can do lots of stuff. For example, you can use them to send reminders to your future self – even recurring reminders (e.g. send an email to every.Friday.firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “Bring flowers to the wife” and your marriage will blossom)
Lastly there are emails that actually require you to do work. This is the one part SaneBox can’t help you with. But if you are diligent with the steps above, the only “Do” emails in your Inbox are the ones you will work on and process today.
How to finish the day with Inbox Zero – guaranteed
At the end of the day there’s nothing better than dragging all your unprocessed emails to SaneTomorrow and seeing the magical empty Inbox. Even though it seems like cheating (it is – they will reappear tomorrow morning), the feeling of accomplishment is good for you!