An empty, tidy and well-arranged mailbox. Who doesn’t want that? Zero Mail or Inbox Zero is a term you hear a lot: no email. Zero Mail gives you a clear view of your inbox. But it goes further than that: it’s about setting priorities. Merlin Mann, the creator of this method, originally saw the inbox zero technique as a “step-by-step solution for email management”. In the United States, Merlin Mann is recognised as a productivity guru. His area of expertise is email management and personal effectiveness.
Focus is also a term that comes up often: concentrating completely and not working from scratch. What can you do with those two terms together? It is of course very tempting to work from your mail and as soon as a new one arrives, to answer the mail immediately. However, this way you can follow your mailbox all day long.
How can you achieve focus?
You can choose to work with systems and not from your mailbox. Your mailbox consists of different types of e-mails, the first is informational, the second is opinion and the third is decision-making. By using the right systems and also processing as much information as possible in those systems, you can ensure that your mailbox becomes empty and you can work focused.
How do you arrive at those systems?
Ultimately, you only come to systems if you have processes. If you have no processes, you will always continue to work from your mailbox. Because without processes you don’t know when, what should take place. The moment you have an overview of the various processes, you can standardise things, define steps and indicate when and what needs to be done. You can process such a process in a system and such a system supports you. This allows you to indicate in your agenda when you are going to work on a certain system. This way you have much more control over your day.
- Create four folders in your Inbox.
- Process your emails
Processing emails is the core of Zero Mail. When you first open your inbox, all you have to do is process emails and move them to one of the folders. This results in an empty inbox with all your important actions in one folder.
- Decide when to pick up “action” email.
For example, plan to work on the emails in the action folder twice a day. At these moments, you do nothing but complete the activities in a specific way. Working according to the Zero Mail method becomes part of your work structure if you regularly use this new way of mailing, then you no longer have to schedule specific times.
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