There is a lot of talk about having an empty inbox at the moment. And I also often speak about the wonderful feeling of having the inbox emptied. I praise the empty inbox when lecturing and I definitely recommend that everyone strive to have a ”zero inbox” regularly.
Sometimes someone in the audience raises their hand and says:
”But that’s ridiculous. That is just self-deception. I still have to keep track of what I have stored and saved.”
I understand their concern. No one wants to fool themselves into doing something disadvantageous just for the sake of it.
But, I also hear warning-bells chime when I hear the words ”keep track of”. To me, these words signal that there are concealed to-do-tasks in what has been put aside or stored away. Having this said, I understand why someone feels reluctant to just save e‑mails in folders since this will then result in even more places we need to ”keep track of”. I feel stressed just thinking about it.
Does hidden = forgotten?
It is not the places we have stored materials away in which we need to keep track of. It is the to-do-list (and perhaps the calendar as well). We should not have to access the folders or places we have saved e‑mails in until we are searching for a specific e‑mail.
The to-do-list should contain everything, and really every thing, which we are going to do, take care of or keep track of. Not until we keep it all in one, and only one, location will it be possible to obtain the overview we need to be sure that we are doing the right thing right now.
Think about if you have any e‑mails saved somewhere which you need to keep an eye on or remember? If so, create a to-do-task for each and every one and hence allow your list to be the only location you need to pay attention to.
You could for instance phrase a task along the lines of: ”In the beginning of November, read the e‑mail X sent and take action if doing so should be appropriate.” or ”The next time you are going to create the report, look through e‑mail Y for instructions.” and set the day you know you need to perform the task as the due date. Something like this.
Keep an eye on the right place
You see, if you formulate to-do-tasks for all the things you need to do and keep track of, you can relax and mentally let go of the e‑mail once you have saved it in a folder for future reference. You can then wholeheartedly enjoy your empty inbox and will not have to worry that you have missed something important.
What is your trick?
Do you make sure to empty your inbox out completely once in a while? What is your trick for doing so successfully and without then feeling worried about missing something? Comment below if you have a trick up your sleeve.