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Operation: Zero Inbox

Email…you’re probably not a fan. I for one would probably put off answering emails indefinitely if my job didn’t depend on it. But maintaining an Inbox doesn’t have to be a monumental task. At CSR, we’ve developed some best practices to help keep things in order.

  1. Create general directories so that you always have a place to put emails that no longer require your attention. For instance, I have catch-all folders called “admin” and “biz dev.”

  2. Create folders for each client or major category.

  3. Move email followups to a task manager. That way you can file away an email without forgetting action items.

  4. Establish an accountability partner. Add to a weekly 1×1 agenda or measure number of emails as a KPI.

  5. Send fewer emails. Instead, communicate with the team via Slack or a task/project management system.

  6. Sort newsletters into a separate inbox so that they don’t distract you from the most important emails.

I myself used to have thousands of unread messages. At least a hundred were fairly urgent. My manager had me set goals every week for a lower number until I got down to just a handful. Nowadays, I aim for no more than five unread emails at a time and no unanswered emails more than two days old.

Good luck!


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