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Master your emails and get to inbox zero today

Quick guide to inbox zero

Hey — It’s Hussein 👋

What a weekend!

SoCal was on high hurricane alert, which thankfully downgraded to a tropical storm before hitting us. Luckily we didn’t get any floods, power outages, or fallen trees in our area. 🙏

Before the storm hit, Jessica and I caught the Broadway show Beetlejuice the Musical. It was wild and fantastic! I highly recommend you go see it if the tour makes it to a theatre near you.

Hussein and Jessica at Beetlejuice

Many of you (36.14% of those that took the survey) expressed interest in me covering topics outside of AI. So today’s article does not include AI (yet) and covers the topic of Inbox Zero.

Please take the quick poll at the bottom of this article and let me know if you want to see more articles like this or if I should stick to AI articles only.

Estimated read time: 5 minutes 28 seconds.

PS: I fully expect that in the next few months, we will be able to achieve inbox zero even faster with the help of AI. When that day comes, I will update you on what tool to use.

Before we begin… a big thank you to this week’s sponsor.

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What is inbox zero?

The definition of Inbox Zero is literally having no emails in your inbox.

In practice, it goes beyond that. It’s a systematic approach to managing your emails more effectively.

I started following the Inbox Zero approach to email in 2013 when the Mailbox App (RIP) launched. I tried it, saw the benefits, and never looked back.

What are the benefits of inbox zero?

Inbox zero can:

  1. Help reduce stress from having a cluttered inbox.

  2. Help you prioritize and focus on what’s important.

  3. Improve efficiency and help you manage your time better.

What are the steps to inbox zero?

There are four parts to my email management routine that helps me get to inbox zero:

⏰ Schedule email time

Don’t keep your email client open on your desktop, don’t check emails all day, and resist the urge to read every email as it comes in. Instead, schedule dedicated email time, which gives you time to take care of your emails.

Depending on how heavy your company is on email usage, you can decide how often to check emails throughout the day.

For example, Arta Finance (my day job) is heavy on Slack. We are not heavy users of email, so I only check my Arta emails three times a day. In the morning, around lunch, and at the end of the day.

If your email reliance is heavy, you can check emails at the top of every hour.

You might be wondering how I can ignore emails when I might be getting customer requests or issues.

The short answer is… please use a ticketing system and don’t handle custom inquiries in emails. It doesn’t have to be complex, but email is not the way to go here.

🎯 Take immediate action

When you go through your emails, your goal is to take immediate action, it’s hard at first, but you will get into a rhythm eventually:

  1. Archive emails that you don’t need to respond to, take action on, or do anything with.

  2. Respond to emails you can quickly respond to and then archive them.

  3. Take action on those that require you to take quick action, then archive them.

You will then be left with a few emails. This is the hard part but critical:

  1. For each email left, you need to decide if there is something you truly need from this email as a reminder or if you are done with it. If you don’t need the reminder, archive the email. It doesn’t need to be in your inbox. If the email is serving as a reminder, then can you move the reminder to your calendar? or maybe a reminder app?

  2. For tasks that come in via email, you have to be realistic with yourself. Is this task a priority? Will I ever actually do it? Or is it just another reminder of something you will never have time to do and doesn’t really matter anyways? If that’s the case, then archive it. If it’s a task you will actually do, keep it in your inbox so you can take care of it. If it goes beyond a few days, you should move it to your task list instead of email.

📜 Take it easy with email rules

I don’t have many rules set up for my emails. My only email rule is for newsletters I want to reference but don’t need to read on the day they come out. I have a rule to move them all to a folder and periodically go through the folder and see if there is anything worth reading.

You could set up email rules to prioritize emails, label them, categorize them, etc.. but that’s overkill which means at some point, it will be a big pain in the a$$ to manage, and you’ll stop achieving inbox zero.

So my recommendation is to create a rule only if necessary, and if it helps you get rid of emails from your inbox, that you can come back to in the future when you have time.

🚫 Go all in with unsubscribes

Finally, don’t be afraid to unsubscribe from emails you don’t actually need or stopped reading (except GPT Hacks of course 🫶).

Seems like every store I visit nowadays wants to send me a daily email. I already bought the sofa; I don’t need a daily email about sofas. Unsubed!

Keep it simple!

Those of you who have worked with or met me in person know that I like to keep things simple. The more complicated you make things, the less likely you will keep up with them. I’ve been using inbox zero for almost 10 years now. I stick with it because it works and I keep it simple.

My inbox averages 0 in a week but it doesn't mean it’s at 0 every day, I sometimes have bills to pay that I come back to over the weekend or have an email I need to respond to that I need to think about.

When I used the Mailbox App, I used to schedule emails to come back in the future - I stopped doing this long ago. Many email clients have this feature now but honestly, I don’t think it’s valuable to use.

All you are doing is postponing the decision or action you need to take. Do it now, or accept the fact that you won’t do it and just archive that email.

That’s all for today. I am genuinely curious to know if you found today’s article beneficial to your and your business.

The heart of GPT Hacks is on using AI for productivity gains - that won’t change but if you want to see a broader range of productivity topics (not all AI) please reply and let me know. If you don’t, also reply and let me know.

See you next Wednesday — Hussein ✌️

P.S. If you’d like to sponsor, reply. 5.1k founders and entrepreneurs are waiting for you. 

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