Forget Inbox Zero…Do This Instead!

Forget Inbox Zero...Do This Instead!

I was having a conversation the other day with someone about Inbox Zero (the idea of having zero emails in your inbox at the end of the day/week)

There was a time that I used to do this too. I even created an “Inbox Domination” course teaching others my principles and techniques to do the same back in 2011 (it’s now on Udemy if you want it, it is outdated but the principles remain true)

However, after years of going for Inbox Zero, I realized that simply the thought of checking my emails still gave me stress and anxiety (aka friction).

So now I go for “Zero Inbox” rather than Inbox Zero.

The result? I haven’t checked my emails in over 2 years and life is way happier.

Side note: I will still log in to my email to search for a specific email when I need to… if you use Gmail get the chrome plugin “Hide Inbox” to be able to easily search without ever seeing the inbox 

Anyway, I mentioned this as a side comment in a group the other day and a number of people wanted to know how… so here’s my gift to them and you.
** How you switch to Zero Inbox **

1. Stop ALL internal communication by email

You shouldn’t be sending a single email internally between your team. Setup an asynchronous chat tool instead. I personally use and love Slack, but you could use Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams instead.

2. Switch to shared inboxes for client communication 

Eliminate the single point of failure that is an individual’s inbox. No customer emails should be going into an inbox that no one else can see.

Teach your clients to email a general inbox like [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected] and pipe them into a team inbox tool like Freshdesk or HelpScout or GrooveHQ etc…

Teach your clients to email a general inbox like [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected] and pipe them into a team inbox tool like Freshdesk or HelpScout or GrooveHQ etc…

You may need to retrain your clients to do this, it’s going to take time but definitely worth it for you and them (no more, sorry I was sick and didn’t see your email)

3. Set up zaps for important unmissable emails

So, I learned this the hard way when I got a fine from the tax office for missing a payment. Turns out the accountant had emailed me about it and I didn’t know about it.

I now use Zapier to notify me in Slack every time I get an email from my accountant or bookkeepers, or anything direct from the tax office.

So if there’s unmissable senders or email types, get them notifying you via SMS or slack or something.

4. Unsubscribe from everyone (except me of course)

One of the most important steps to getting out of your inbox is making it manageable for someone else to manage.

That means cleaning it up.

There’s a bunch of people who email you and you never open it, you never read it, you always say I’ll get back to that and yet you never do.

Just unsubscribe. You can always resubscribe later.

5. Create automatic rules & filters

Gmail has an awesome ability with filters to automatically send certain emails away into labels and or auto-forward them to others.

Like any invoice you receive regularly you can set it up to be auto-forwarded to your bookkeeper.

Notifications that you want to look at once a month, have them skip the inbox and auto go into a label for your inbox manager to review.

6. Turn off all email notifications 

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all send email notifications but if you are using the apps, or logging onto the site you don’t need them, especially since you won’t be checking your inbox anyway!

Change your email preferences in everything you can. Turn off as many unnecessary emails as possible.

7. Get suppliers into Slack

I mentioned bookkeepers and accountants’ important emails. Well, my preference is to get all my suppliers in my Slack team and communicating there.

My bookkeepers do it. Sadly, I haven’t been able to convince my accountants yet.

My external writing team though, my podcast production team, they’re all in slack and know that’s how to reach me.

If you’re an Automation Agency client, did you know we have a Slack Integration?

I built it because I wanted it

8. Let go of the fear of missing something 

Guess what. You’re going to miss something awesome.

A friend emailed you and didn’t call or text you when you didn’t reply.

A supplier had a sale and you never knew about it because you missed the email.

It’s going to happen.

But the major things, the really important things. You’ll know about it. Even if it’s after the fact and you then have to update your strategy to ensure you don’t miss it again (Zapier for accountant emails was this for me)

Just let it go. Most stuff, if it’s important, those closest to you will learn how to reach you.

9. Create systems and delegate

Ok now your inbox is under control and you’ve given up your fear of missing something.

It’s time to delegate your inbox. You can’t do that though without some systems to provide them.

You can’t just say “here’s my inbox, have at it” give them rules, a google sheet matrix is a good idea. Or just some simple doc of what to do when certain types of emails come in.

Should they alert you in Slack, should they reply by themselves with a standard reply, should they forward it to the generally shared inbox, should they forward it to a certain person, etc…

Create your rules as you go through, have them manage your inbox for a week and as things come in to get them to ask you what to do and create the rule sheet as they go.

10. Enjoy a friction-free life

Congrats, now you can have a friction-free life without an email inbox. 
It’ll take some work up front, and you can’t do it alone it requires a team effort, but it will change your life 

#11 Do not, for the love of anyone have email notifications on your phone 

Gmail app is on my phone purely for looking up a plane ticket or hotel reservation or something like that.

All notifications are off and apple email app isn’t even installed.

P.S if you like stuff like this, join my Facebook group – I’ll likely share more stuff like this there through 2020