A Guide to Managing Your Inbox

The Desiree Team
March 18, 2024
Every morning, a similar scenario unfolds for professionals worldwide: opening an email inbox flooded with a myriad of messages, from client correspondence and internal memos to newsletters and promotional offers. The sheer volume can easily overwhelm, leading to stress and decreased productivity. But there's a practical solution to this universal challenge: Inbox Zero.

Contrary to popular belief, "Inbox Zero" doesn't necessarily mean having zero emails in your inbox. Instead, it denotes an approach to email management that prioritises action-oriented sorting. The term, coined by productivity consultant Merlin Mann, calls for immediate decisions on how to handle each email—either by responding, delegating, deferring, or deleting.

A straightforward strategy for working towards Inbox Zero involves five steps, colloquially known as the 'Five Ds':

1. Delete: Remove any unnecessary emails immediately. The key is to be ruthless; not every email warrants your time.

2. Do: If an email requires less than two minutes to address, handle it right away.

3. Delegate: For issues that are not your responsibility, forward the email to the appropriate party.

4. Defer: Some emails may need more time; flag these for future action.

5. Drag to Folder: Create folders for specific types of emails that you might need to reference later, and categorise them accordingly.

Scheduled Checks

Constantly checking your email interrupts your workflow and hampers productivity. Set specific times during the day to go through your inbox and stick to them. Many productivity experts recommend checking email only three times a day: in the morning, just after lunch, and before leaving work.

Email Filters

Modern email platforms offer robust filtering options. Utilise these to automatically categorise incoming emails based on set criteria, like sender or subject line. For instance, all newsletters can go into a 'Read Later' folder, while client emails could be flagged for immediate attention.

The 'Unsubscribe' Button

Habitually clicking 'unsubscribe' may seem tedious, but it is integral to long-term inbox management. Be realistic about the newsletters or updates you read, and remove the rest. This will significantly decrease the daily email intake.

Managing an email inbox doesn't have to be a daily ordeal. By implementing a structured, action-oriented approach, you can streamline the process, reduce stress, and most importantly, free up valuable time. As with any habit, the key is consistency. Adopt these strategies, and the path to Inbox Zero will become less of an insurmountable mountain and more of an achievable goal.


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