It’s dark, and you suddenly hear a noise coming from your left. You flutter your eyes open, and everything seems so blurry. The noise on your left came from your phone. It’s 7 A.M. and it’s time to wake up for the day. You grabbed your phone and you see a three digit number inside a red bubble, hovering over an icon in your phone. You start to dread the day ahead as you imagine how you could possibly get this three digit number down to a zero. Everybody’s inbox can be filled with several pieces of mail everyday, and it can be an eyesore to see so much mail inside your inbox. It can drive anyone insane to see that, especially for someone who’s always aiming for an Inbox Zero kind of lifestyle. So eventually, you can end up taking a few hours of your day to sort through all those emails to get to zero.
The term “Inbox Zero” was coined by Merlin Mann, a productivity expert. The concept of Inbox Zero is attributed to managing emails. Its goal is maintaining an empty inbox or keeping it nearly empty at all times. Mann says that the zero shouldn’t be about the number of emails your inbox has; it’s about “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” So here are some tips on productivity when it comes to Inbox Zero
Everyone tries to get to Inbox Zero”. It’s a productivity benchmark for most, but getting down to a zero on your inbox can eat up a lot of your time. The term itself was created with a great intention, but some people misinterpret it. They’ve made it all about having nothing left to see in immediate view. But, that’s obviously not the case, nor what that term was meant for. To ultimately achieve Inbox Zero, you need to remember that it should always be about making use of your time and how it affects your productivity at work.
The sense of achievement you feel when you know that there’s nothing in your inbox is temporary, and it can even be unfulfilling. At the end of the day, can you confidently say that you were productive just because you spent hours trying to get the number of emails you got to zero? This is the problem with how people misconceive the inbox zero concept. We often think to ourselves that we want that number to get down to zero so that we can say that “we’ve done everything that was needed to be done”. To be actually productive, you also need to take note of two things:
First, how much were you able to accomplish by sorting those emails?
Second, what did you ultimately gain from doing it?
It’s difficult to get to that point where you know that you haven’t wasted at least 30 minutes to an hour of your day to handle those emails. That’s why most people are not able to achieve Inbox Zero the way Merlin Mann had defined it. Instead, you were able to complete this “watered down” version of Inbox Zero.
Furthermore, you could just be wasting your time, and that’s the brutal truth of it. Try to picture this: It’s 3 PM in the afternoon, and you’re in the office. You’re using your 30-minute break to sort your email. Then as the number reaches down to 8, as you refresh your inbox, another 2 emails arrive your way. These two emails are needed to be addressed as soon as possible, but it’s going to take you some time. But, the problem is you’re already in the middle of completing something important from a previous email. So now your work is starting to build up, and you’re stressing out because of it. We receive emails at any point of the day. Those digits on your phone’s icon will constantly go up and down, and there’s not much you can do about it. But, you shouldn’t feel any pressure because it’s only natural.
How to Get to Inbox Zero
To achieve Inbox Zero, you need to realize something: You need to know that your inbox should be a stop along the way. It shouldn’t be the “end all be all” of your personal productivity. Instead, why not make it a place where you can let your things live and remain until you’re ready and prepared to deal with them? So what you need to do is to take a step back and take a look at your phone’s setting. Try to turn off that red bubble. It’s only going to tempt you to deal with your email when you can. If you regularly check your email at least twice a day, you can easily manage it without that red bubble sticking out. Also, do your best to deal with your emails and what each corresponding task require you to accomplish. Do your best to prioritize and plan how you can deal with them in your own time and on your own terms. Don’t let that phony Zero Inbox idea get to you.
Productivity Tips to Live By
Learning how to increase productivity is to know how you can manage your email without wasting time nor stressing you out. Just because your inbox possess over hundreds of messages doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. When you see those digits on your phone’s email app, you’re just using your sight. However it’s something totally different when you start to think about dealing with those digits, as you are now starting to use insight. So here are some reminders you should keep in mind to make the most of that insight:
- Stop constantly checking your email. Limit checking your email to at least twice a day.
- Try turning off your alerts, you’ll be able to lessen distraction that way.
Follow these two simple reminders, and be in charge of your own inbox again.
You need to get your priorities straight. Here’s a tip for productivity at work: if thinking that having zero mail in your inbox is the ultimate sign of productivity, then you’re wrong. Just because you’ve made those digits down to zero it doesn’t mean you’ve done so much. You could even use the time on something else, rather than spending hours sorting through your email. When you find yourself in a situation like this, it helps to remember what “zero inbox” is really about. The concept is about narrowing down your emails to the bear essentials.
Also, you need to remember that your inbox can and should be a place where you can store things. It’s going to be there when you need to come back and see it. There is no need to religiously go through it everyday, as you can always look through it only when you need it. Getting to inbox zero shouldn’t be the only sign of productivity, or where a sense of accomplishment can come from. It should always be about you and how you’ve achieved something with your productivity.