Slaying that email dragon

Bad News: There is nothing that will control your time and be more of a time suck than email.

Good News: It doesn’t have to be that way.

Walk by just about anyone working on their computer during the day, and there is a good chance they are going to be in their email inbox working.

This used to be me, and I would justify it by saying it was the most productive way for me to work.

Wow- was I wrong.


But I run my business through email

I understand, so do I. I probably conduct 75% of my business communications through email. That was always my excuse for living in my inbox.

In late December of 2010, I went through the 12,000+ emails in my inbox and got down to inbox zero by January 1st. My goal was to make it through 2011 with an inbox zero.

Here I am today, more than 18-months later, and I am still at inbox zero and can assure you it is much better this way.


Anxiety you feel

When your inbox is several thousand deep, there is an anxiety every time you open the inbox and see that number. You may not realize it, I never did. But I can assure you it is there.

I promise you, if you get to inbox zero and stay there for any time, then you will notice it.


In control

When you work with an inbox zero you gain control over an important system in your life.

So how do you gain control?

First if you don’t want to go through thousands of emails like I did, then just select all emails from before the last week and hit archive. Don’t worry, they are still there with a quick search.

Second learn the difference between checking and processing email.

I check my email probably an average of twice an hour. By check I mean I will hop in, see if there is anything urgent, if so deal with it, then hop out.

Three times a day, early in the workday, sometime mid afternoon, then again in the evening, I process my email.



By processing I mean it is removed from my inbox getting the inbox to zero.

If it is something I need to save for a reference, it is sent to my Evernote account.

Anything that is an action item or a to-do item, if it is only going to take less than 3-4 minutes, I just do it and get rid of it.

If it is an action item that is going to take longer than a few minutes, again it is sent to my Evernote account as an action item.

And after I check my email during the processing period, it is removed from my inbox.

If you follow this simple process, I promise you that you will not regret it. You will find a new feeling of relief and productivity working with an inbox zero.



And on Friday I am going to share with you the number one tip I learned recently that completely changed the way I look at email.


  1. Hey Dean-
    Love the article. You are so right in the difference between checking and processing. I used to think all of you “inbox zero” people were a strange group that achieved Zen by controlling your e mail. However, now that I am one of them I totally get it. So much more control in my life. !


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