How I Zero-Inbox(ee)
Fred Wilson wrote about a Boxee bookmarklet feature of the Boxee TV beta. Videos items from various sites can be tagged for later viewing via Boxee TV. My Read/Listen/View folder tends to fill up with video because I don’t want to take the time to download.
Seeing this as a potential solution, I was prompted to write about my experience with having a zero-inbox and how it keeps me focused on what’s important and worthwhile.
Having a zero-inbox eliminated that nagging feeling something important could be sitting buried in my inbox. The key idea is to process your inbox completely before taking on any activity requiring more than 3-minutes to complete.
If it will take less than 3-minutes, like a quick response, do it and archive it. The remaining items are placed in one of four folders. Heres how I have mine setup up:
- .Action – Action is needed which is expected to take more than 3-minutes to complete.
- .Read/Listen/View – Subscriptions, blog posts, etc. Many are deleted right way.
- .Someday/Maybe – Someday I may do this but no immediate plans.
- .Waiting – Items I’ve delegated or expecting a response. This become a ticker list to follow-up with after a few days.
I’ve presceed the folders with a period (.) so they sort to the top. All other items are archived (the Y key in gmail). If I need to refer to them again I can easily search for them.
After doing this for a few days, it also became apparent which lists I needed to unsubscribe. They either sent too much email or I just wasn’t that interested enough to ever read what they were sending. Some of these I just subscribe to via Google Reader.
One last bit of advice, don’t cherry pick or scan your inbox, process it from the top to bottom in order. If you start looking for the “really important stuff” it’s too tempting to get sucked into it, missing the other more important stuff.