Email Under Control – An Empty Inbox

Empty the Inbox with One Touch on Each Email
‘Process to zero’ – each time I process email in my inbox, empty the inbox completely. [If there are a lot of mails – you may find it helpful to ‘think spades, not teaspoons’]

Give each message as much attention as it needs and no more. That means enough time to decide what you need to do with each email, and do it.

Stay in One Mode at A Time – This Reduces Worry

Convert to actions
What action, if any, does this message require of me?

Empty the Inbox with One Touch on Each Email
6 Verbs that Keep Email Under Control
– DELETE
– ARCHIVE
– DELEGATE
– RESPOND (1,2, or 3 line response)
– DEFER
– DO

6 Verbs – What They Mean
1. I do not need to do anything, nor keep this email – DELETE it.

2. I just need to save this for future reference – move it to ’01 – ARCHIVE‘.

3. This needs action by someone else – DELEGATE it – forward it to someone else
& have a follow-up reminder

4. I can write a quick & worthwhile reponse now – RESPOND – here are some ideas:
(A) A brief response
Write a few words in response [1-5 sentences]

(B) A Template
These are used by many people in business – using pre-prepared well-worded responses. Here are some suggestions I have come across:
(i) Basic “thank you” responses
(ii) Responses to frequently asked questions
(iv) Responses to administrative information requests.
(v) Use a template program, such as Mail Template for Mail.app [e.g. http://www.mactank.com/mailtemplate%5D

(C) A Weblink
“Here’s a link that might be what you’re looking for…” is a great and super-fast response.

(D) A Question
This may seem so obvious to you, but I find it useful nonetheless!

(i) Clarifying questions – e.g. How about…? When do you need…?
(ii) If the email is an old one ..’do you still need …?’

(E) “I don’t know”
I often find this difficult, but people really appreciate it more than taking a long time to try to cover up what I clearly don’t know.

“I have absolutely no idea”
“I don’t know — but you might like to ask …” can be the most useful response anyone could receive.

5. I don’t have time to answer this now – DEFER it
(A) Not Urgent – move it to “03 – RESPOND TO” and answer it within X days
(B) I need to convert this into an action by the end of the day, but cannot write a quick & worthwhile response – DEFER it – move it to “02 – DAILY PENDING” folder, and action it by the end of the day

6. I am able to action this now – then DO it

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