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How to Change Email Overload into Inbox Zero

How to Change Email Overload into Inbox Zero

In one form or another, email has been around for nearly fifty years. While it may not be the newest technology, it is certainly one of the most popular, with nearly 200 billion emails sent each day.

I remember my first email account. I played the violin and thought I was clever, so I set it up as “fiddledbrain@aol.com”.

It was fun for about a minute, but then the deluge came—advertisements, newsletters, and other unwanted spam.

The story didn't change much until I switched to Gmail, but even then came college emails, job offers, and work-related messages that never seemed to end.

Somewhere, buried in between a mass chain email and my long-lost “uncle”‘s inheritance, was something important: the only email I actually wanted.

If you've ever struggled with email overload, you know the stress that it brings:

  • You count your unread emails in hundreds—or even thousands (and know that number right now, in your head),
  • You avoid checking email because it sucks up so much of your time, and
  • People have had to wait a week (or longer) for you to respond to an email before.

“Dare to be different. Change email overload into inbox zero—every single day.”

I've done it. You can too. Here's what you have to do:

  1. Maintain Multiple Inboxes. Use one email address with your family and friends, and another for every online account on the web. Keeping everything web-hosted, I use Gmail for one and Google Apps for the other.
  2. Summarize Content. Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe from lists you don't want, and get a daily “rollup” of the rest. I've opted out of nearly 300 lists this way (oh yeah, and I should mention: it's free).
  3. Disable Email Notifications. This is the number one cause of most email-related stress. Don't just disable notifications on your phone, turn the email counter off. In addition, I took email off my phone's home screen completely—and I haven't looked back since.
  4. Remember: Emails Aren't Tasks. Many people make the mistake of marking emails as “unread” over and over again. Each time, you're thinking “I'll get back to that later” instead of dealing with it right there and then. If you can respond in two minutes or less, do it now. If not, add it to a task list.

Email is the bedrock of connections in the digital world. It's where most of will spend much of our online careers. Make it yours, and your email will start working for you.

How do you deal with email overload?