Since I started working online, I have spent so much time cursing and hating my email inbox.
In my mind, it represented little more than a constant stream of other people’s priorities and unwelcome interruptions.
You too, right?
I dreaded opening my inbox up and seeing more unread emails than could fit above the fold, which I knew were immediately followed by an entire screen-full of additional already-read emails still sitting there requiring some kind of action.
Just shoot me now.
But not anymore.
Here is my inbox right now, at 9:45 am on Friday, May 23, 2014:
Do you see it?
Right there in the middle:
No new mail!
And it’s not just a one-time thing — a single, fleeting moment of glory when I happen to be unimportant and am not receiving a constant stream of emails.
It was like this all day yesterday too. And most of the previous afternoon. (I’ll tell you why in a minute.)
And I’ve already processed 15+ emails this morning — taking decisive action on each that took the email from my inbox to the archives, never to be a source of worry again.
It’s not like you need any extra motivation to learn a brilliant process for mastering your inbox.
Seriously … is there any more universal desire for professionals who communicate primarily via email for work?
So here’s the not-so-secret secret, which I learned from Michael Hyatt, which has actually been sitting out there on the Internet for over two years for anyone curious enough to find it. (I just found it Wednesday.)
- Empty your inbox every day.
- Don’t get bogged down, keep moving.
- Use keyboard shortcuts and avoid the mouse.
- Let e-mail rules filter the low priority stuff
I don’t even use number three, and number four I use only a little bit.
But numbers one and two? Absolute frickin’ gold Jerry … GOLD!
Number two requires a bit of unpacking, and I will defer you to Mr. Hyatt’s site for that. I can’t steal or take credit for his secret sauce, after all.
But just know that it works. And it’s easy to learn, memorize, and immediately put into action.
I also highly recommend you listen to this episode of Mr. Hyatt’s podcast, where he explains the entire system, and how to implement it, in about 15 minutes.
And then subscribe to the podcast. I’ve been devouring episodes like they’re salted cashews these past few days. I already feel more productive and in control of my days, and I’m swimming with post ideas.
The key now, of course, is to make this a consistent practice.
Two days is great, but old habits can and will creep back up on you.
I’ll tell you this: the feeling of peace and freedom I have when I visit my inbox now is intoxicating. I hope it’s addicting. And it filters through every other element of my daily life. That’s not an exaggeration.
I don’t ever want to go back to the way things were before.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Royce Bair.