I am also in the midst of my annual New Year Purge. This is where I go through and unsubscribe from all marketing emails especially those from some of the strange Christmas gifts I purchased. I play this game with myself called inbox zero. On the off chance that a true practitioner of the official or original method stumbles across this due to an errant google search for those terms please click away now. I do my own version and it is not true to the concept. I’ll explain.
Frist, this applies to both work and personal email in case you were wondering. The only thing that is different is the frequency I check the inbox. My job is centered around email communication so once an hour before the top of the hour as most of my calls begin on the :00 or the :30. While on a call I minimize Outlook and notifications are always turned off so the noise and whatever else aren’t begging for my attention while I am talking to someone. Personal email is checked almost exclusively in the evening. There is nothing that can’t wait and most of it just annoys me anyway.
MY Inbox Zero is basically if you read an email you act on it. Delete, Reply (if that can be done in two minutes or less), Archive, or keep in the inbox because it requires something else to finish or more time. This is also a bastardization of GTD. You read so many things you lose track of where the ideas are stolen from…
Anything left in my inbox is something I have to get done making the inbox a To Do List.
*other side rules: Don’t read an email you aren’t prepared to act on. This means no flipping through on your phone, tablet, or while you are doing something else. Phone and tablet are fine if you will be acting from those devices otherwise email should not be used as a distraction. Once it’s done, its done. If you can’t throw anything away archive it to search later.
That is all there is to it. An inbox with hundreds of unread emails makes me anxious because I think there is something I’ve missed. If that is how you roll then good for you. Part of what makes this doable is my no junk policy and that is where the purge comes in. Along with unsubscribing and deleting I used to have multiple throw-away emails that I never checked. Those were used when shopping somewhere I knew was going to bomb me or shady websites that required an email before I could read an article. As of last night, I am down to just one. I deleted my Yahoo email that I had since they opened their electronic doors. I went to check and it had more than 3,000 unread so I scrolled through at high speed and it was all junk. It was time to say goodbye to an old broken tool. It was a good run.
The purge will conclude with the also annual at the first of the year deleting of the files. I have an online dump where I store everything that might be useful someday. That day is tomorrow and if it is not it will go away. The internet is making personal information hoarding obsolete. My pile is mostly things I wanted to learn more about or that made me laugh. There is another wrinkle this year because Evernote bumped up their pricing so I packed up my notes and left. Just need to transfer anything useful to the newish system (apple notes if anyone cares) Is it weird that I’m looking forward to this?
And one final note (I think this might be a personal best for typing the word note in a single post) for the five of you that checked in on Saturdays and or Sundays; This is now going to be a weekday thing. I have some other side projects I want to work on and forcing myself to not do this will help with that.