I want nothing in my email in box.


I want nothing in my in box. Is that bad?

When I worked as a theatrical agent, we had an expression “make it go away”. eg, deal with the task or problem, get it done, or, if you’re lucky, it might dies of natural causes.

I wish I could make my in box go away, make it back to fresh and nothing, like ground zero. I get there from time to time, but the stuff lying about makes me ‘want to make it go away”.

How ’bout you? Do you like your in box to have a clean sweep from time to time? Or do you just let it do it’s thang? Tell me all.

17 responses to “I want nothing in my email in box.

  1. Oh,

    common situation! I tried all; once just trashed 600 and some more, off the bat. Nothing special happened. Sometimes I read them. 🙂 It’s actually exposures of the digital world, some of them drift your way. That’s how I come to see it nowadays.

    /J

  2. I am just cleaning up some of my subscriptions. I ended up with over 2500 emails in my inbox. Hmmm organisation. I was uncontactable for about 2.5 hours today, and came back to 97 emails! grrrrr.

  3. Yes, isnt it interesting? Years ago, having something in your in box was validation to who we were or what we are doing ( in a way). Now it is just another thing we have to keep on top of. Don’t get me wrong… it is valuable to hear from those you love… but how many have subscribed to this or that, or this or that, or this or that…..? starting to become clutter… sigh…. How many emails are just like all of those windowed letters we get in our letter box (real letter box) and very little pleasurable content now….in which ‘the moments’ really matter.

    • There might be, in the future, more intelligent filters that also “tag with time”, meaning that if the response the mail gets from a person is not current (timely), then the score is lower, but mail gets archived anyways. I think there’s a lot of improving about the way emails should be visualized, as nets; just like the Facebook friend visualizer…

  4. I think it depends on actual content of email.

    Some things you might want to keep – a personal note from a friend, a forwarded joke from a collegue, something to be actioned, details of a authentication key or a login details etc etc. Others, like the offers from this or that company can be deleted without hesitation.

    Personally I love Outlook. I can create folders to store and file the emails I want to keep, I can use the tasks to record things I need to action, and if something is more appointment or date orientated its transferred to the calendar.

    I suppose its a little like coming back in from your real letter box – some things need to be filed, actioned, or tossed.

    • totally agree Susan!
      The minute I started thinking about my inbox like an old skool mailbox, it made it much easier to deal with!

  5. Hi Lissanne,
    I recently turned off all email notifications from Facebook & Twitter. My Inbox thanks me! Alot less rubbish. I also unsubscribed to lots of e-lists and newsletters that I once thought I needed. If I hadn’t opened a newsletter or e-list recently – bye bye!

  6. yes, the content has a lot to do with it! I generally don’t have subscriptions or notificiations that are junky, but I do find a lot of stuff in my mail box that needs attention… down to 31 messages this morning 🙂

    I find it overwhelming when it gets to over 100 so I’m not doing so badly!

  7. hard to know what to keep, and what not to. i do a cleanup and then someone says “did you see that email about that meeting we are supposed to be at” 🙂 But I deleted it.
    Quotas at work force me to clean up. Online mailboxes are huge so no reason, except to make some order out of chaos. Can mass delete stuff from mailing lists and not have missed much as it comes around again anyway – same topics get repeated.

  8. Hi Lissanne
    I read my emails as they come in, and then label and file them as ‘Work to do’ if I need to do something, but I keep my inbox empty. I have ebay emails labelled and filed into my ebay folder (without landing in my inbox) and I read them on my break.

    • Ah, I would love to hear more about Inbox Zero from you, dear reader! I have read a bit at 43 folders, and have heard some stuff before, but to be honest, revisiting those links weren’t inspiring. Watching a 1 hour video from Merlin Mann feels a bit like too much research for me.

      But, perhaps someone would explain in a succinct fashion the rules for making it work (or point to a good link).

      Am I lazy? Perhaps. 🙂 Sunday night, I can smell roast dinner cooking.

      • Hi Lissanne,
        After dealing with my everyday stuff (the Four F’s saved me – thank you!!!!!), I got really interested in the digital stuff – and started browsing around GTD, etc

        Inbox Zero was an eye-opener and has really worked for me. Although there’s some great insight, yes, the video is pretty tough going!!

        There are a few basic ideas around this:
        * Time is finite
        * We spend too much time fiddling around with email – ‘checking’ it constantly
        * Inboxes are not for storage. Instead we should be processing items that appear there.
        * Processing is a quick and low demand task. Even with 100 emails it should only take about 15 mins. It’s “more than checking, but less than responding”. So it’s do-able!
        * When you go to ‘check’ your email, it should be processed – there’s an obligation to do this!

        There’s a few really simple steps:
        Open your email and process it, one email at a time, buy choosing one of the following 5 options:

        Delete – most emails can be deleted. Or filed if you (REALLY) need to keep the information. Or archive if you can’t bare the thought of needing it and not having it someday

        Delegate – Like the Forward of the 4 Fs. If someone else can do it – send it their way!

        Respond – If it takes less than 2 minutes. Do it now. If you can’t, add it to your to-do list (or whatever system you have). If you want to be quicker at this – check out http://five.sentenc.es/

        Defer – If it takes you more than 2 mins, or you’re waiting on a response or need more info to respond, defer it.

        Do – If it can be done, do it now.

        I like to ‘process’ first thing for no more than 15 mins. It’s a time saver because you’ve culled through and know what you’re dealing with so can schedule time in the day (or whenever) to action what really needs to be done. The key thing is that you have to stick to it, make it a habit and tweak it to make it do-able for you.

        I think this works because it’s simple – and it separates out the ‘doing’ from the ‘getting through it all’ which can seem really overwhelming if you’ve got 150 emails to deal with.
        I guess it’s like the FourF’s – it’s a culling process, so you can then deal with the bulk of what you need to.
        And as always – prevention is better than cure!! Totally agree with culling down subscriptions.

        Oh – and one extra tip! –
        For those with Gmail, my new favourite thing is a Google Lab called ‘Canned Responses” where you can create templates for common responses – huge time saver! Great for processing and shooting off an email in less than 2 mins!

        Sorry for the essay…
        Love to hear other’s opinions on GTD or email tips?
        Cheers
        – Laura

  9. Would love to know what the four F’s are.
    I too have unsubscribed to every newsletter except a couple – your’s being one of them!
    Now I allocate a couple of time slots a day to check email and I keep to the time say 30 mins twice a day. what doesnt get done then waits. Sometimes if I get a group of emails about a common subject I schedule a quick chat with the author and ask about it. Much easier, quicker and productive.
    I have also turned off the pop up which tells me I have mail – very distracting and almost impossible to resist.

    I have also made folders for different categories which I drop emails into and set up rules for say all emails from the boss to go straight to a folder and let me know its arrived.

    Not hard at all to do.

    I still dread the email in box because I can get lost for a morning in it if I am not careful – but much more manageable.

    I learnt most of the above at a stress management seminar which was fab. Amazing how much stress an inanimate object can cause to our health and wellbeing.

  10. Another note, email has become also a kind of “only link feasible” to eg. invite people to systems, or authenticate. Basically I consider this a side-channel activity, something that email wasn’t invented to handle, but has evolved into (not maybe the optimal situation in regarding users). These kind of messages are mostly technical computer-to-computer protocols, so it would be interesting to see if in the future we can separate “signal noise” from the actual payload, ie. personal messaging that we want to read.

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