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Starting the year with a clean inbox

3 January 2011

Last night, I reached the elusive Inbox Zero. That’s right, I emptied my email inbox. This isn’t to say I don’t have any email messages. It’s just that they’re filed away in folders (or “mailboxes” in Mac Mail parlance).

For the last couple of years I’ve been working on creating the habit of having no more than 15 emails in my inbox at the end of the work day. These are emails that either require some action or, sometimes, just remind me of action I need to take. Keeping them pared to 15 (an effort supremely enhanced by my accountability buddy, Aby Garvey, who is working on the same goal) is hugely helpful. It keeps me on task and keeps things from falling through the cracks.

I had more time at my desk this past, so I pared my email inbox down below 10 on New Year’s Day. Then yesterday, I decided to go for zero. There were a few emails that had been lingering in my inbox for months. These were non-urgent things that I wasn’t ready to let go of the idea of doing. But guess what? Yesterday I did ‘em.

It’s a great feeling to be at zero. Once things start heating up again, I imagine the inbox will creep toward 15. But perhaps in 2011 I’ll work toward keeping my inbox to 10, rather than 15. I don’t think zero is a realistic daily deadline.

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