The Renegade Organizer
Office Organized. Business Systemized. Profits Maximized.

Conquer Your E-mail Inbox

I’ve been hearing a LOT about “inbox zero” – the idea that at the end of the day you should have zero e-mails in your inbox.

There are a couple of things about this that made me suspicious right away:

1.  Any “one size fits all” approach to business organization and systems makes me nervous.

2.  The VOPs (“Very Organized People”) are using inbox zero as a way to say “Hey look, I’m better than you because I have zero e-mails in my inbox” .  Worse, I see people buying this and feeling bad about themselves.

First, let me just say it.  I have 3,636 items in my inbox right now.

Let me also say that I am absolutely on top of all of my e-mails, I know what e-mails require action, and which ones need to be done today.  Plus, I can find any e-mail that I need to find in seconds.

Which is to say that I can find my e-mail easily and use it effectively – and that, after all, is the Renegade Organizer’s definition of organization.  I could just as easily have zero e-mails in my inbox, but not have a handle on what I needed to do with my e-mails or when.  I could be bragging about my “inbox zero” status while rapidly falling behind on what I need to do to keep my business running.

That doesn’t mean that inbox zero is a bad thing necessarily, it just means that in the basic three step process of Renegade Organizing (1.  Think 2.  Plan 3.  Act) we can’t skip steps one and two and fall for some new cliche about the “right way to be organized”.

What could you do instead?

1.  Think

What do are you trying to accomplish with your e-mail.  What do you need to do?  How would you know if you were succesful?

2.  Plan

What are the options for doing that, which options make the most sense? (This step may also require you to learn about your e-mail system – take the time, it’s worth it)

3.  Act

Implement the system that makes the most sense to you and will help you be successful by your own definition in Step 1.

Need a little more help?

This is a perfect situation for The Golden System from Simple Systems for a Complicated World

You might also check out my earlier blog post “5 Steps to Ease in your E-mail”

2 Responses to “Conquer Your E-mail Inbox”

  1. I was at Inbox 3 last night — woo hoo!! Of course my “Inbox-ToDo” has 13 items, the “Inbox-Need to Read” has 252 items and the “Inbox-Waiting on Others” has 28 items.

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