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Smart Work by Dermot Crowley

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6 PROCESS TO EMPTY

I believe that one of the most powerful productivity behaviours you can adopt in the digital age is to build the habit of processing your inbox to empty on a regular basis. Merlin Mann, a US-based blogger and productivity expert, coined the term ‘Inbox Zero’. He recognised that the usual response to receiving more and more emails is to let them pile up in our overflowing inboxes. Through his productivity blog ‘43 folders’, he started to promote the concept of going all the way to zero. While he did not invent the idea, he has been a pioneer in popularising it over the past ten years.

It seems to me that when it comes to email, many people resist the need to change their mindset and behaviours, and will often persist with poor habits that cause them stress and anxiety. Few process to zero on a regular basis. While many will happily go close, some just can't seem to finish the job of emptying their inbox! We all have a comfort line, and if we can get our emails down to that level, we feel in control. For some it is a hundred, for some it is a screen's worth of emails, for some it is ten.

I would argue for setting your comfort line at zero. You don't have to reach that line every day, but at least once a week you should be able to process all the way to empty. Of course, it is always going to be a temporary state. More emails will keep coming in, ruining your perfect white inbox, but that is not the point. Inbox Zero is not about never having an email in your ...

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