One of the greatest productivity enablers is now becoming one of the greatest killers of allowing people to actually get things done. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about email. The problem is that email is fantastic up to a point but beyond that it simply becomes a case of information overload.
One of the major problems is that most people use their inbox box for things they shouldn’t. Email is designed for communications not file storage or being a reminder service. Allowing your inbox to get out of control can have serious ramifications for the amount of work that you are able to get through.
Studies show that many people spend over 30% of their time dealing with emails, which when you look at it realistically, isn’t actually being productive. The greatest failure most people have is that they don’t process emails, they simply scan them and then don’t action the contents. This means that they need to come back at some stage and hopefully action the email. Problem is that it is far easier just to continue to skim emails rather than actually process them.
There is also a cultural stereotype that we believe people with more emails in their inbox are more productive or somehow more important. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most productive people in a business are typically those with very little in their inbox. In fact the ultimate is to achieve something called Inbox Zero.
The concept of Inbox Zero was coined by Merlin Mann and is elucidated in presentation he gave at Google a number of years ago at Google. You can see that video at:
The concept is not to eliminate email but to actually process them and achieve a situation where you keep your inbox clear so it only contains new emails. Think of it like a normal mailbox, when you go there you take all the mail items out and deal with them. You don’t simply scan what’s there and put some of it back.
For many, Inbox zero can appear hard to achieve but it is just a matter of discipline. However, if it can be achieved you’ll be amazed at the results it produces and how more productive you can become in your daily work routine. If nothing else moving towards Inbox Zero will give you more control over your emails and reduce the stress of dealing with the every increasing flood of information.