Inbox Zero (modified)
For awhile I tried to accomplish Inbox Zero in both my work and personal email systems. I was successful, but decided that actually moving the emails out of the Inbox was wasted effort. Now I use the unread count to actually be my inbox zero. No unread emails = inbox zero. One thing I do to make this work is make sure that when I'm reading my email, that I actually have the time to process it. This means I have the time to send a quick reply or delete the email. If there is some action item, I copy the relevant text to one of my next action lists. If I want to save it as reference, I actually copy the email and put it in my reference system outside of my email. If it requires a longer followup, I flag the message and move on to the next email. At the end of each day I go through the flagged messages and handle those. Pretty much standard GTD inbox processing.
If I don't have the time to do the processing steps above, I will do emergency scans of subject and sender if I don't have the time, but won't actually open any emails. I also try to be careful about not marking an email as unread after I've read it, although sometimes I will in a pinch.
Maybe this doesn't save a lot of time, but I feel that even just the act of dragging the emails to an archive folder is not worth it.
My email client (gmail) has an Archive button that archives the current email and returns the view to the inbox.
Quickly Archive Gmail Messages
Thanks for sharing your interesting workflow.
I do a lot of the same steps in my processing. I often keep some of my "working material" in my inbox. Although as things get busier, it feels more and more out-of-control. Especially as the number of emails creeps over a screen-full.
Also, like you, I find that the time taken to archive a message is a problem. But worse, as I use the Gmail web client, I find that archiving a message results in losing track of where I was in the inbox list - a small distraction - but very frustrating when applied to almost every message! This is because I have to select the message and then click the archive button which is at the top of the window and then you're eye has lost where it was up to. And it gets worse: if you're already in the process of selecting messages to bulk tag them with a label, then you're really in trouble if you want to archive something else as you go.
Thought I'd share something new that's really helped me with this. Hopefully I won't be shot for plugging a product, but it's currently free. If you use the Chrome browser and gmail, it's called "Actions for Gmail". It adds an archive button to each message. One click, and it's archived. And it even preserves your selected items. Search for it on the Chrome Web Store, or click here.
Hope this helps!
Originally Posted by gnugrep