If you have spent any amount of time learning techniques to improve productivity you would have heard of the concept of inbox zero.
Inbox zero is the perpetual state of logging into Gmail and regularly being able to see this.
Why is this important or even make the cut of productivity books around the world?
Well the rationale goes as follows:
If you continually log into your email account and see emails that are nagging you for your attention it impacts productivity.
Attention span is a hot commodity nowadays as most of us in our ever connected world don't have much of it and marketers are always trying to get more of it in anyway they can.
Email has become such a hot mess for most of us that entire courses are now dedicated to managing email and getting things done and for me personally I have always liked the philosophy of inbox zero.
I know that every time I login to Gmail and see that email with an article from a mentor I really respect about some growth hacking technique I should pay attention to it. It could be a game changer or give me those AHA moments we entrepreneurs all live for BUT right now as I'm in my inbox I'm not ready to read it.
You know what happens next – I get another excellent growth hacking email and so it goes on and on, I get overwhelmed and my inbox grows and two weeks from now you have all these “excellent should read” emails clammering for my attention and cluttering my email.
Even a minute of distraction and procrastination can be debilitating to a focused workflow, so we need a system to manage emails and get them out of mind until the time we are ready to deal with them.
Talking about the right time to deal with email here is another classic email stress ball – bills! You get bill reminders by email but you are only getting paid a week from now. I don't know about you but having a bill staring at me for a week in my inbox is not the way I want to start each day.
So what are we to do?
Well for all the theory and concepts about email productivity I have only been able to achieve inbox zero a handful of times and not consistently over the last few years until now…
My recent achievements and general sense of email bliss is mainly due to two apps which I want to introduce to your productivity stack.
And here is the kicker they are both free!
As mentioned earlier, my issue with emails was knowing what to do with the ones that were important to me but not immediately actionable.
So to achieve inbox zero for me personally required two things
Knowing what to do with reading materials from people I enjoy learning from but wasn't ready to read yet.
When you run an online business that works with numerous app vendors I get quite a lot of these emails and I'm sure you do too.
But the biggest reason we all have for not managing our email load is emails where we are not in position to do anything with them yet.
There are so many reasons for this one but the most common reason is that you are waiting on someone else before you can action the email. When dealing with numerous people on a daily basis this can lead to hundreds of pending emails very quickly.
So with that said, the easiest email productivity hack is having a system to be reminded of important emails when you are ready to deal with them.
To do this I would like to introduce you to Boomerang.
What I particularly like about this app is it's ease of use but also clever features like knowing the date you may want to be reminded of an email again for example the day before having to pay your phone bill.
My most recent use case where emails were piling up was when we had a website back-end issue and the workload for the website kept piling up and emails kept coming in. We had to wait for the developers to do there thing before we could continue our work. All I had to do here was click the boomerang button and set the email to come back to my inbox in 4 hours time once the developers had completed their work.
Nice and easy!
Now for app number 2 of our email productivity stack.
This app is the one I use not so much for organizing email but as a productivity tool for note taking and just generally getting things out of my head and saved into the cloud.
If you read the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen this issue of getting things out of your head is one of the main things he advocates that you can do to overcome the sense of overwhelm and get more done.
The app I use is one you probably all know of – It's an oldie but still 100% relevant for today.
Why Evernote in the context of inbox zero you might ask?
Because it has email extensions for Gmail and Outlook where you click a button and the entire email (attachments, media and all) is saved to Evernote and searchable for you in the future.
This is a particularly good technique for dealing with those “Mentor related emails with any PDF's etc they share with you” to get it out of your inbox but not out of your life.
I have a dedicated filing section in Evernote called “Reading Cabinet” and when I want to have a learning session I just fire up Evernote on mobile or desktop and it's all waiting there for me.
See a video demo of this extension in action.
We have a special bonus ofer on Evernote if you decide to go for their Premium version. However you don't need the premium version to implement the tactics in this article.
So there you have it, two apps that will actually lead to inbox zero!
This concept is no longer a pipe dream and when you regularly see that happy sunshine in your Gmail App it's a great feeling and actually becomes a fun little game to achieve when you have these two apps.
I would like to know…
What apps and techniques have you used that works? Share in the comments below and lets all learn together.