Inbox zero: My email sanity saver

20 May 2011

On January 2, I cleared my inbox down to zero email messages. And since then i’ve done it every work day except two, when I was out of town without my computer. That’s nearly five months of inbox zero at least five days a week. (I usually do it on the weekends as well.)

I know that even six months ago I’d have scoffed at the idea that inbox zero was attainable or (perhaps) even desirable. But I’ve found that achieving inbox zero once makes it easy to maintain. Here’s why:

  • When I end the day with zero messages in my inbox, I don’t wake up to many
  • Since I’m dealing with only one day’s worth of email, it feels much less overwhelming
  • It forces action and decisions. No longer do I let an email languish in my inbox while I figure out how to reply.
  • Items no longer get lost (or forgotten) in my inbox. It used to be that potentially important emails would scroll out of sight. I look at every email message every day now. And I do something with each.
  • I no longer have annoying “I’ve got to respond to that email” reminders floating around in my head. By the day’s end, I respond. It’s fabulous.

I think a big part of my ability to do this is that it’s become an established habit. And I have an email accountability partner, Aby Garvey, so I have the thrill every day of reporting that I’ve achieved inbox zero. I have a certain sense of pride in the accomplishment and I don’t want to break my inbox zero winning streak. I blogged about how having this streak going makes breaking it hard (though I try to let go of it when I travel).

Another unbroken chain that I have going is regular blogging (as I mentioned in the blog post referenced above). Since December 27, I’ve posted on my blog each and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, even when traveling. I’m writing this on Friday at 6 pm, having just returned from an overnight trip without my computer. I’d meant to write a Friday blog post before I left, but ran out of time. So I decided to cut myself some slack about and skip this Friday.

But when I sat down at my computer upon my return to get my email inbox back down to zero, I realized I couldn’t bear to break my M/W/F chain, so here I am blogging.

Behold the power of the chain.

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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