Chris J Powell

Inbox Zero – Lofty Goal or Easy Fix?

Increasing Productivity is one of those challenging goals that many of us hope to achieve but few truly achieve over an extended period.  There are Management Consultants that will charge companies ridiculous sums to come in and advise on how to improve corporate productivity but the reality is…much of the focus to improve productivity starts with the implementation of a system to manage the flood of email that comes to your inbox (s) each day.

I have been looking at several focused and targeted ways to do this for months as I suffer from complete and total email overload most days.  I maintain 5 email addresses (that I actually check and use) and each and every day I receive between 700-1000 emails each and every day.  I looked at the inbox of each of these addresses and realized that I am an email Hoarder! My work inbox has 38 folders, my email has 15 folders and my well there are more than 8000 emails that I keep in the inbox (just in case).

I came across an interesting concept that can assist with maximizing the most valuable resources that I have as a Knowledge Worker (my Time and my Attention).  Merlin Mann is the brains behind a website called and some time ago he dove into a series titled Inbox Zero.

Back in 2007, Merlin went to the Google Campus and gave a very interesting speech (it is 1 hour long but having sat through it…I found it life changing).

The reality of this whole process is exactly that…process the email to Inbox Zero and focus on getting to action.  The funniest statement in the video was “don’t let your Blackberry become exploding Cats”.

There is a solid presentation that goes with Merlin’s presentation that is available for download (download a PDF) and I strongly recommend thumbing through this.

Also by the recommendation of Merlin…I jumped over to 5 Sentences and realized it was time to condense and focus my attention and keep all email responses under 5 sentences long!  It is time to start to walk the walk of increasing productivity for myself.  I am hoping to add a couple of hours to my week by focusing on getting my world in order!


Chris J Powell

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1 thought on “Inbox Zero – Lofty Goal or Easy Fix?

  1. Chris, you’ve made an important discovery. Inbox zero has worked wonders for me. Swing by Barry Cousins’ desk sometime and pick up his book “One Task List.” For the characters in his business fable it’s a ticket/project mgmt system…but for me it’s my inbox/calendar. This is my task list – so what’s in my inbox is on my plate to do. If I know I need significant time to address it, and that time is not now, I build a calendar appointment for the appropriate amount of time and copy the e-mail into it. Done. Now my reminder will cue me. This way I work to inbox zero, plan my time, and work my plan. I also aggressively use my calendar to remind myself to follow-up on inquiries I’ve sent out to other folks, so i don’t drop any balls. Works wonders!

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