How to get zero emails in your inbox

A simple way of getting Zero emails in your inbox is selecting all the emails (Ctrl +a) and deleting all the emails (Ctrl+d)

Will you meet the purpose of having zero emails in your inbox? Yes , of course

Will you keep your job after such practice? Probably not

How to get zero emails in your inbox

Is Zero emails worth it?

Jokes aside – yes it is worth it.

Why to have Zero emails in your inbox.

This is is the ultimate decision you should implement if you want to feel in control, react with urgency and close the day with peace of mind :

Control: You control the inbox, not the inbox that controls you. You are sitting on the steering wheel

Sense of urgency: When you have zero emails in your inbox, you are becoming fully aware of all the new emails – if there is an urgent topic, you are able to react accordingly

Peace of mind: Feeling of satisfaction – you are closing your working day knowing you have a system that works

With below system , you will be able to implement in few steps Zero emails in your system.

For the system, we will refer to the concept of Process vs goals explained in the book: Atomic habits (link)

If you want to see how I use this system with real life examples – click here.

Different types of emails to recognize

When your system is under the idea of closing the day with the least possible number of emails – not necessarily zero – you need to have full clarity of the different types of emails that are normally flowing to you  

  • Delete emails
  • Delegate emails
  • Less than 5 minutes action emails
  • Define action email
  • Another type of email

Delete email

This is typical example of organizational announcements, IT best practices or for your information (FYI) emails …

The only purpose of these emails is to share some information with you, while no further action is needed from your side

You can easily manage these emails in three simple steps.

  1. Open the email
  2. Process the email – understand the content of the email
  3. Delete the email

Either you can delete the emails normally with your mouse or using the keyboard shortcut combination ctrl + d (if you want to read more about helpful outlook shortcuts, click here)

PRO TIP: if you would like to delete the email permanently press shift + delete

Delegate email

Managers of other will feel represented on this case , you get a question from your superior to prepare certain analysis and there is a member in your team

Less than 5 minutes action emails

To mention few examples of these type of emails – these are the kind of emails where you may be asked to perform a certain action into the system, to approve some expenses or to answer a short question from your peer

The tittle is self-explanatory – can you action the email in less than 5minutes?

If the answer is yes – go for it and action it in the moment

If the answer is no – we are talking about what I call Define action type email

Define action email

Mister Paton, in 2 weeks we have performance review with leadership. Prepare a Power Point presentation including the KPIs overview, and for the off-track elements explain root cause and action plan.

Straight forward example of what I would call Define action email.

Can I delete it? – No, there is clear action for me

Can I delegate it? – Partially yes, still ownership is sitting on my side

Can I do it in less than 5 minutes? No, I need to deep dive in the data, prepare analysis…

How do I recommend proceeding on such cases?

You need to know yourself. (Not meaning about your hobbies and your passion) – rather being realistic how fast or how slow you are preparing a presentation (data prep, data analysis …)

How to Manage it step by step in your inbox:

  1. Open the email
  2. Create a task in your task (customized Outlook shortcut: Shift+Ctrl+7)
  3. Block time slots in your calendar to work on the data
  4. Move email to the relevant folder (shift + ctrl + v)
  5. Target to send presentation over to your manager 2-3 days prior to the meeting

One of the easiest win to save time in your outlook is by implementing keyboard shortcut – If you want to know more about outlook shortcuts click here

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