GTD Nuggets – Getting your email to zero

Date: Saturday, November 13, 2010 by GTD Times Staff

Scanning an email and leaving it in “In” because it’s not as important as other emails at the moment creates double reading, double thinking, and double decision-making (not to mention the nagging it creates in the psyche in the meantime.) – David Allen

7 Responses to “GTD Nuggets – Getting your email to zero”

  1. I have pretty much figured out how to “Get” my inbox to zero, but I have yet to come up with a good way to keep it there.

    I am half tempted to just stop using email al together. (Wishful thinking).

  2. Renaud Laffont says:

    It’s been down to zero on an almost daily basis for over 2 years now. Whenever it gets to 20 emails, I find my Inbox disturbingly cluttered and feel the need to process it ASAP.

  3. Josh Walsh says:

    I’ve been keeping my inbox at zero ever since I saw inbox zero. The only exceptions to this are times when I intentionally leave email behind. ie. Vacation.

    I’ve only made one small adaptation from the email processing rules. Both David Allen and Merlin Mann advocate taking immediate action on items that will take less than 2 minutes to complete.

    For quick tasks I’m very bad at estimating how long it will take me to finish. For that reason, I tend to drop all email that needs action into my inbox.

  4. I have rarely been able to get my Killer Bee Printing inbox to zero. However, I’ve recently eliminated any emails that are not immediately useful, so I can be happy about five or less. Your advice is great. Keep it up!

  5. Graham says:

    Interim step to getting IN box to zero (tip)

    I’ve been at In-Box Zero for about a year now. It’s not something I did in a single step. This tip may help you.

    Create a ‘Capture’ folder in your personal PST store. In my case the PST was on a USB keyring (to transit between client and home offices). You still capture a whole load of unprocessed stuff but it’s not a straight duplicate of IN. It’s one layer down and one step forward. The filtering of IN to Capture folders has the following advantages.
    () In-Box can be got to zero very quickly
    () Moving only non-junk to Capture folder gets rid of all junk on first pass.
    () A good number of e-mails don’t need much thought and go straight past Capture to Calendar, DNA’s, Tickler, Reference or get responded to and filed in projects folders on first pass
    () My mail system never gets ‘clogged up’ and to the point where you can’t send or receive due to size limits
    () The USB store of personal PST file brings filtered first pass e-mails from client and personal mail feeds to one place – this helps to clarify, prioritise and make decisions on stuff
    () You get to feel in control of e-mail and don’t have what I used to feel was an e-mail debt

    My capture file is now at zero on most days but it took a while to get there. The above interim step allowed me to feel I was winning much earlier on in the process.

    Good luck.

  6. Jim says:

    After I put emails in @action and @waiting for, should I print all my clients’ emails and put them in a paper file then delete them from the inbox, or should I just move them from the in-box into a email file for that person’s name?

    • GTD Times Staff says:

      Hi Jim,

      If you’re asking about whether to keep the emails after the action or waiting for is complete, that’s entirely up to you! As David says, “When in doubt keep it, when in doubt throw it out.”

      Good luck!

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