Inbox Zero Academy: Lesson 4
Treat your Inbox right.
Treat your Inbox right
Today’s lesson is a three-part series that covers how to treat your Inbox right. In it, we'll cover:
- How to properly filter your bacn (no, not the delicious breakfast delight we love so much);
- Why we shouldn't always default to emailing;
- Why you should stop using your Inbox as an archive.
Properly filter your bacn
Spam has largely been solved, but the new evil is bacn (pronounced “bacon”). These are legitimate emails (e.g. newsletters and social media alerts) that you have subscribed to and possibly want to see, but they don’t deserve to interrupt your day. It’s best to make sure these messages never set foot in your Inbox by filtering them out. At minimum, be sure to process these messages in bulk so they don’t waste your time or linger in your Inbox.
If you're already using SaneBox or have another filtering system for your bacn, then kudos to you for maximizing efficiency! If not, don’t worry—we’ll dive deeper into this in later lessons.
Don't always email
As we’re sure you know, email threads can quickly balloon into dozens of messages and numerous recipients. That simple “Plans this Friday” subject line really did some damage to your Inbox, huh? Or how about the email exchange with 7 colleagues that went on for days. Before continuing the thread and adding to the Inbox madness, decide if:
- a) A phone conference is better;
- b) Some people should be removed from the thread;
- c) It makes sense to start a new thread altogether.
Don't use your Inbox as an archive
Using your Inbox as an archive goes against every productivity method out there; this is the number one faux pas, people! It's the equivalent of stuffing your snail mail back into your mailbox after reading it. It's terrible for your productivity, and for your subconscious. Don’t do it. Instead, utilize your email's search function to find messages and create folders for various categories of emails you may need to reference in the future.
- Bulk process all of the bacn in your Inbox.
- Each time you go to send an email today, ask yourself if a phone call, text message, or instant message would be more efficient.
- Scan your Inbox and organize the important emails that you’ve already read, but have allowed to remain in your Inbox.
You’re reading the Inbox Zero Academy. It’s a series of lessons to help you improve email life.
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SaneBox is a simple service that analyzes your past behavior (which emails you open, which you respond to, how quickly, how often, etc) and determines the importance of incoming emails without ever looking at the content (only the headers). It moves unimportant emails out of the Inbox into a separate folder called SaneLater and summarizes them in a digest. It works anywhere you check your email (since it's just an email folder).