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Inbox Zero

“It requires much less energy to maintain e-mail at a zero base than at a thousand base.”
~David Allen from Getting Things Done

How’s your inbox doing these days? Are you at zero? Or are you like some of my family members, at thousands? While many just ignore the junk mail and leave them unread, unopened, and undeleted – those emails can quickly pile up and become an energy drain.

Reference here many philosophical or religious schools of thought, going back thousands of years, that advocate for simplicity. Anyone who has ever had a good closet spring cleaning knows there is outstanding evidence for simplicity! So why does it require LESS energy to maintain e-mail at a zero than at a thousand?

Thoughts floating through your mind are like waves on the ocean. Imagine your work tasks, plans, actions, along with going to the doctor, getting a haircut, the kids ball game and more – getting jumbled up and bouncing around on the waves in your mind. David calls those waves “open loops” that you’ll want to close.

No matter how successful you may think you are at ignoring that inbox number on your screen, having 100, or even 10,000 emails (even junk mail) in your inbox is a LOT of open loops—draining you a lot more than you may think. It’s all about the cognitive processes of the brain, so even though you think you aren’t worrying about all that email, your brain will tell you something much different.

How then to close those loops?

There are a lot of practical ways to get to zero and David goes into detail on his approach.

Whether you use his ideas or come up with your own… making the firm decision to get to Zero and setting that as your standard, is the critical first step.

Once you get there, something magical happens. You can no longer avoid making a decision about what to do with each email. And that’s an excellent thing! Open loops get closed, leaks get plugged and an enormous amount of forward momentum is created, and mental energy is restored.

If you do this already you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t – give it a try! Let us know about your inbox Zero!

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