August 27th, 2018
If you’re like many business owners, the mere thought of trying to obtain the zen of Inbox Zero causes stress beyond measure. If you’ve never heard of it, “Inbox Zero” was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. The zero is not truly meant to reference an actual number of messages in your inbox. Instead, it’s “the amount of time your brain is in your inbox.” His point is that time and attention are finite. In today’s world, the inbox is confused with your “to do” list, causing productivity to suffer immensely. In his words, “email can feel like an avalanche falling on your head.” Suffocating. Can you relate?
Clearly, it’s essential to have a system or framework to deal with the flood of email received on a daily basis. As a business owner, when looking for “best practices”, it makes sense to look to some of the top CEOs for strategies that work for them. In doing so, we found some surprising techniques that you may want to weave into your system.
- To receive fewer emails, send fewer emails.
It’s a fairly simple concept, but profound at the same time. Think about how many emails you send as a business owner. Nearly all will illicit at least one email response, if not more. Would it ultimately save time if you were to pick up the phone or walk to your team member’s desk to ask the question or have the conversation? It may not seem like it at first, but considering the thread of email you might eliminate, it very well could.
- Employ the Yesterbox technique.
Introduced by Zappos.com billionaire CEO, Tony Hsieh, the Yesterbox technique is simple. Your “to do” list each day is simply yesterday’s email inbox. If it can wait 48 hours without causing harm, then you are not allowed to respond to any emails that come in today, even if it’s a simple one-word reply. When processing yesterday’s inbox, you must process 10 of yesterday’s emails before you’re allowed to look at any emails that are coming in today. It sounds really hard because today’s emails scream importance. But are they really? Hey, if Tony Hseih can make it work effectively, it could be worth trying in your business! You can learn more about it here: Yesterbox.com.
- Block time to handle your email, then shut it down. Include an auto-responder if you must.
Schedule a block of time on your calendar daily to deal with your inbox each day and then abide by it. When the block of time is over, shut your email down and do not open it until your next scheduled block of time. If you are afraid you’ll miss something critically important, include an auto-responder for your off email time.I am currently only checking email from 6:30-8:30 a.m. EST so there will be a delayed response. If this is urgent please call or text me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.If it’s something needing an immediate response, you’ll receive a call or text.
- Declare Inbox bankruptcy.
Hootsuite CEO, Ryan Holmes, declares inbox bankruptcy when he begins to feel overwhelmed by the massive size of his inbox. This means he deletes everything and starts fresh. He does recommend only doing this once every couple of years, though. And he suggests that if you do it, you include a message in your signature block (something like the following) after deleting unread mails.“I apologize if I didn’t get back to your last email. To become a better communicator, I’ve recently declared email bankruptcy to clear my inbox and start fresh.”The nice thing about this idea is that it enables you to implement a new system or framework for handling email with a clean slate.
Do you have a unique technique to manage your inbox? If so, we’d love to hear about it!
LXCouncil members regularly bring powerful ideas to share in our meetings, including but not limited to: best practices, business processes, employment practices, as well as useful productivity tools and apps. If you’re ready to take your business and leadership skills to the next level, and if you think your business could benefit from more insights like what’s offered in this article, let’s start a conversation. LXCouncil may be the perfect next step!
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