Does inbox zero seem like an unachievable goal?

If you were to take a glance at busy business owners’ mailboxes, you would most likely find that many of them have tons of unread messages. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t check their emails every day. It is just that navigating hundreds of messages every day can be a real hassle. Given their tight schedules, it could be almost impossible to achieve and maintain inbox zero.

However – with the right tactics, you can deal consistently and effectively with a constant stream of email.

In this article, we will walk you through ways to achieve and maintain inbox zero without a hassle:

How to achieve Inbox Zero

1. Apply the delete function generously

We all love to hold on to emails. But leaving so many messages in your inbox can make your goal of achieving inbox zero even harder. Apply the delete and archive functions to messages you do not see as important. And if it is a newsletter you regularly put aside rather than reading, help yourself by unsubscribing.

A free app you could try is which cleans up your inbox by showing you a list of all your subscription emails. You can then unsubscribe easily from whatever you don’t want.

2. File away

Emails containing information like tax receipts, contract details, passwords, etc., are too crucial to be treated lightly.

It can help create different folders for these, so you can quickly locate relevant information whenever you need to. However, do not be overly dramatic with categorization. Too many folders may complicate rather than simplify your work flows.

Gmail has great systems available around folders, tagging and filters to smoothly file your emails automatically. You can label and even colour-code emails from specific people or even whole domains. These labels will allow the emails to be easily archived once read.

3. Schedule

You don’t have to read every message that pops up in your inbox. It would be great to read all, but it is not necessary. Consider scheduling a particular time each day to read as many emails as possible. This can be at the close of work or before you end to the bed.

It’s useful NOT to start your day with your Inbox – doing this can tend to distract you from plans you may have for how your day will run and your priorities.

If a particular email doesn’t require an immediate response, you might want to place it in a folder tagged the day you would like to reply (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc).

Proper scheduling is essential to achieving your email goals.

4. Be specific with your emails

There is little point in including too much information in your messages. Make your emails specific and straight-to-the-point. The shorter your messages, the shorter the response you would most likely get. It saves your time as well as that of your recipients.

Here are some other ideas to consider when writing emails:
  • In all business writing, the audience is the top consideration. Who you are writing for will determine how you write your email. The reader will determine the tone, formality, and content of the communication
  • Follow the “one thing rule” – this states that an email must have a purpose, and it must have only one purpose.
    • In practice, you may need to ask for several pieces of information related to the same topic. In this case, use a numbered list to clarify for your reader that the request has components. This will help your reader respond easily and ensure you receive all the specifics you need.
  • Check that the email is necessary
  • Use italics and bold to emphasise important points, not capitals
  • Make emails easy to read
    • Keep plenty of white-space to assist the reader
    • Use shorter paragraphs, lists, and bullet points to streamline the information
    • Use headings to break up concepts and allow a reader to skim
    • Avoid awkward formatting copied from other documents or emails. Strip any prior formatting and add formatting as needed within the email itself.
    • The subject line should be a mini-summary of your email.
    • Any referenced attachments or links must be included in the email.
    • Take a moment to review your email. Check for grammatical or spelling errors (Grammarly has a helpful free tool). Typos suggest carelessness and can even convey incorrect information.
Email Hacks
  • Undo send
    • In Gmail, you can enable this function in Settings. You can choose from a 5 to 30 second cancellation period. (This has saved me on multiple occasions!)
    • Other email clients may have a recall function
  • Template responses
  • Schedule Emails
    • If you are working outside of business hours but want your email to arrive in your client’s inbox on the next day with Gmail you can schedule the emails to send at the start of normal work hours. 
  • Track email opens
    • There are a wide range of email add-ons and applications that will track if your email is opened by the recipient for example Boomerang addon with Gmail

Information from – How to Write a Business Email

5. Delegate

It may seem appealing to handle all your messages yourself, but do you really have the time to do that?

Sometimes the best action is to hire a virtual assistant to manage your official email. If you don’t feel comfortable handling your official mailbox totally to a virtual assistant you could create a designated folder where you can forward messages that you require the VA to handle.

These are just a few suggested guidelines. Keep in mind that your work type may occasionally require you to deal with emails in certain ways. Consider the above-stated tips as starting points to organize your emails and set up a personalized process to maintain your inbox overload.

Good luck in achieving inbox zero!

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