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Reaching Inbox Zero (and Staying There)

Are you the kind of person that’s always got hundreds of notifications on their smartphone? Does each folder have that little number on top of it, showing how many notifications and alerts you have? Chances are if your smartphone looks like this, your email inbox is even worse.

Some people are great at opening notifications. They can’t stand that little number, and as soon as something comes in, they open it. Even if it’s just a notification to tell them that there’s been an update on a YouTube channel they follow, they have to open it so that the announcement goes away. The rest of us just aren’t as bothered. We open the important things but don’t see the point in viewing things just to delete the notification, what a waste of time. 

But, when your inbox becomes like this, the chances of you missing an important email, or misplacing something that you’ll need later on, become much higher. In your personal email account, this can be bad, but when it comes to business, it can be costly. So, if the idea of clearing out thousands of emails is overwhelming, here are some tips to help you. 

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Free Up Some Time

Schedule a morning just for attacking your emails. Clear your diary, make sure you’ve got nothing else to do, and commit this time to reaching inbox zero. Even if it takes hours, you are going to do it. 

Section Up Your Inbox Using Folders and Labels

Instead of keeping everything necessary in your inbox, and deleting everything else, section it up. Create folders, such as “business” and “personal” or “receipts,” “bills,” and “invoices” or for specific projects and subjects. As you are working through, file emails accordingly, and get into the habit of filing as soon as you read in the future. 

Set Up Smart Folders

You can even set up smart folders on platforms like Gmail to make this more manageable. Arrange for emails to go straight into their folders to make your life easier. 

Utilize Analytics

If you are a frequent collaborator, or you work with other members of your team on projects, your inbox might be absolutely full of communications between people that you are working with. Many of these communications can be entirely avoided by utilizing the right analytics. A power bi consultant can show you how you can use Power Bi to share, and even embed analytics so that your whole team has access and a better way to communicate moving forward, without constant back and forth over emails. This can help to keep your inbox clear as well as freeing up a lot of your time.

Change Your Notification Settings

Do you get tons of emails every day just telling you that you’ve got a social media notification? Is this necessary? Or just something that you didn’t uncheck when you first started setting up your accounts? If you’ve got accounts on multiple social media platforms, and separate personal and business accounts, this can quickly add up to tens of emails every day that you don’t even read. 

Head into your account settings on your social media platforms and change your notification settings. If you already check your feeds daily, you might not need any email notifications. If not, you might want to keep a daily update or emails for important changes. 

Hit that Unsubscribe Button

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Another problem might be that over the years, you’ve subscribed to countless websites, newsletters, and updates. Every time something that you don’t want comes in hit unsubscribe before you hit delete. You’ll get far fewer emails every day, making your inbox much easier to control. 

Alternatively, spend an hour going through your emails and unsubscribing to everything in one go, instead of waiting for the emails to arrive. 

Check Your Junk and Spam

Your junk and spam folders are a useful way to avoid all of those junk emails that you don’t want to see. But that doesn’t mean that you should neglect them entirely. Go through and unsubscribe here too, and get into the habit of checking your junk and spam folders once a week to make sure you haven’t missed anything important. 

Schedule Daily Email Time

The best way to stay at inbox zero once you’ve made the time to get there is to get into good habits. Have a plan on how you will deal with your emails in the future. Will you open and reply to everything immediately? Or, schedule 30 minutes at the same time every day to deal with your emails? You might choose to open emails as they come in, action anything that’s going to take less than two minutes straight away, adding anything that is going to take longer to your daily to-do list.