Now more than ever I believe Inbox Zero is one of the most important technology processes a professional can adopt. The number of security breaches surrounding email has exploded, the amount of information communicated electronically is overwhelming, and the number of devices accessing and storing email is continually growing. All of these are great reasons to take some time to develop a process of protection: to protect your time, your data, and most of all protect your sanity.
Not sure what I’m talking about? You can find the full details of Inbox Zero at http://inboxzero.com/. For those who want the cliffsnotes version stick with me.
The idea of Inbox Zero is to get your mind out of email and onto productive tasks. I like to think of it as a framework that you can use to build an email processing system that works the way you want to work. The basic concept is simple. Choose times and process out your email by taking some simple actions.
- Do – If the mail is something you can complete in a couple minutes just do it, don’t save it for later. Complete the task and delete the email.
- Delegate – If the email is something that someone else could or should do then delegate it. Don’t hang on to tasks you won’t have the time to complete.
- Defer – This is the one that gets people in trouble but the idea here is to take these items and move them out of the inbox into a schedule that ensures they actually get done. For me, this is my calendar. I force myself to make time within my schedule to complete these tasks.
- Delete – This is the most important. Get rid of those things you don’t need.
You will notice that I specified “choose times to process your email.” What this means is removing the random bings, pings, and dings we all get when we receive an email. This keeps your mind out of email and focused on the task at hand. Meanwhile, if you have time set aside to process emails, you can rest assured you’ll still respond in a timely fashion. These replies will be dedicated to the task at hand, and normally result in better overall communications.
Keeping a clean inbox keeps you on task and ensures better communications, but those aren’t the only reasons email processing is important. Email is a huge security target and we increasingly make it less secure. Think about how many emails you currently have that contain confidential or proprietary information. What is the real impact of your email being breached? Now think about how easy and convenient it is to access your email. Can you access email nearly everywhere? Most will say yes, and this becomes the problem.
With convenience comes risk. Cloud based email systems have remote help desks with social engineering vulnerabilities. Mobile devices are easily lost and have real time access to all that email you’ve stored. We connect to email on any network available – coffee shops, airports, fast food restaurants – it doesn’t matter, we’re always checking email. All of these are risk points, and the more information you have in your email the more information you lose when your email is compromised. Processing out your email mitigates this risk.
So if you want a quick boost in productivity, and a bit more security checkout Inbox Zero and see what processes you can utilize to clean up your email.