I first heard the term Inbox Zero at the 43 Folders blog, and they have a lot of helpful suggestions there. The thing is, I KNOW all sorts of ways to deal with email clutter, but I was still bogged down by it.
My worst email habits?
- Using my Inbox as a reminder system or task list. I would store emails there to remind me of things I still had to do. No wonder I never wanted to open my email browser!
- Continuing to receive newsletters and updates from businesses I was no longer interested in. What will they do? What will they say? How will they feel? None of that is more important than my own peace of mind! I love when someone unsubscribes from my mailing list and includes a message about how they're de-cluttering their email. I always applaud their efforts in a quick thank you note.
- Losing myself in a complicated series of folders and sub-folders. Watch for an upcoming post about how Gmail's Labels and Search tools make folders completely unnecessary.
Now that I've transitioned to Gmail, I'm achieving Inbox Zero more regularly than I ever have before. Here are the two Gmail tools that are making it happen:
- The Archive button. As soon as I've dealt with an email, I archive it to a folder called All Mail. If I'm replying, there is a "Send & Archive" button that does this in one step. Genius! Of course my All Mail folder is filling up quickly (over 5,700 emails and counting, filtered in from four different email accounts), but watch for an upcoming post about how I can create instant folders and find any email quickly and efficiently.
- The storage space (oh, the storage space). My Outlook was getting slower and slower because of all of the emails I was saving. And that was even after I archived them regularly and used other clean-up and compression tools. Today, Gmail tells me: You are currently using 268 MB (3%) of your 7312 MB. Watch for an upcoming post about how I'm backing up my emails, now that I never have to delete any unless I really want to.
I admit, some of what I'm doing with Gmail I probably could have also done with Outlook, just by applying the discipline to delete and/or move emails from the Inbox more diligently, but Gmail's cool tools have definitely given me extra incentive.