E-mail INBOX: empty or "unbold"/"unmarked"?
I've been hearing all the time the "INBOX ZERO" approach.
I follow a "unbold"/"unmarked" approach, which basically means that if there isn't any BOLD or MARK messages, I don't have anything ACTIONABLE on the list, although the INBOX is not really empty. The number of e-mails is irrelevant, if you guarantee that there's all REFERENCE.
Does anyone have a similar approach?
The reasons for this: that saves me the trouble of managing archive folders/ deciding where is goes / or deciding whether I want to delete an item or not. Considering the powerfull SEARCH engine of most e-mail programs and the decreasing cost of disc space, I don't see real benefits in worrying about "emptying" the INBOX. Any tips that I may be overlooking on this approach would be highly appreciated.
Semi-Automated Email Processing in Outlook
I have a process that I find works very well, although I cannot claim credit for devising this method, it was implemented after hearing about it on a Podcast from the GTD Virtual Study Group, but it's very efficient and works really well.
(Assumes Outlook 2003 or later).
Create a subfolder of the Inbox called Inbox09, ditto with Sent Items.
Create a rule that does the following for all mail messages:
- Flag for follow up in 0 days
- Move to the Inbox09 folder
Create a Search Folder Called Next Actions, set the Criteria to Flag Status = Follow Up.
I then have a button on the toolbar that clears the flag.
Once setup, all email that comes in, gets moved from the Inbox to the Inbox09 folder for easy archiving - 2 folders each year. (This could also be put straight into a PST File if size limits are an issue on mailboxes.)
All new messages are then flagged in this folder with a Little Red Flag, I can then process them and add them to my next actions list.
Once I have processed the message, I then click the Clear Flag button on the toolbar which clears the flag and the message dissappears.
I have an Inbox at zero with a clear indicator of what has and hasn't been processed and a single folder with all my messages in to reference back to.
I also have search folders setup using Categories to group messages in both Inbox and Sent Items for specific projects, people, suppliers etc. Email related to these items or people is tagged automatically by using rules.
Please feel free to contact me if you require more info on obtaining the Podcast which includes step by step instructions and screenshots on how this works!!