Normally, I don’t talk productivity tips here on thinkfuture, but this time I felt that I had to share my “one crazy tip” for getting yourself down to “inbox zero”
Now, we all know what that is, right? That state of bliss that you can only achieve by having ZERO unread messages in all of your in-boxes. (Actually, that’s not even the TRUE Inbox Zero. True Inbox Zero is actually having ZERO messages in all of your inboxes. I know – unthinkable! But it can be done.)
So, whether you are attempting the lazy inbox zero (no unread messages) or the true inbox zero, there is one quick “crazy” tip that will get you there. It’s so simple, you’ll probably face palm once you hear it.
Stop using webmail. Yes, you heard right: stop using webmail. There is no single webmail implementation which can take you to inbox zero. They are simply not designed to do that.
Lately, I’ve been reading Essentialism (great book, BTW) and one point stands out from all of the rest of the great points in this book: that most everything is NOISE. That most things are UNIMPORTANT, and they don’t deserve your time, at all.
In that vein, how does your typical webmail implementation determine what is important? By your frequency of communication, your specified people etc. It tries to figure it out, but fails miserably because it simply does not work on the premise that most things are noise and unimportant. So it shows you page after page of email, and you never get ahead of it. You need a solution where you can dispatch huge reams of email very, very quickly, and there is no way to do that in modern webmail. But there are other ways – ways we may have forgotten: the good old, reliable email client.
Eudora, Thunderbird, eMclient, Outlook and many others have been around for a while. But we’ve stopped using them as our default mail handlers because of the ease of accessing Gmail or Yahoo! Mail or whatever wherever we are. But as we starting using those web based email handlers, we got further and further from being able to wrangle ourselves back to inbox zero.
How do you get back there? Simple. Just find your favorite offline email client app, and have it download your email. It may take a while, but imagine the satisfaction of bulk deleting all that email from that annoying former client (sort by sender and delete) or newsletter that you unsubscribed from but never read the 1000′s of emails from, now stale.
You can get to Inbox Zero. You just can’t do it in web mail. You need to be able to wipe out things in bulk. And for that – you need a desktop client.