Ever heard of “Inbox Zero?”
It’s that magical, mythical place where you have no—that’s right, ZERO—emails in your inbox.
I really don’t remember the last time I achieved it.
But here’s the secret—I don’t really care.
For a long time, Inbox Zero was my only metric for good email management. But to get there I would spend literally HOURS cleaning up my email inbox. The process would waste precious hours of my workday. It also led to me finding emails I didn’t respond to from months ago or action items that were never taken care of.
To get back my days and use my email more productively I recently adopted a new method for organizing my emails to ensure that my inbox doesn’t get overwhelmed—but that I don’t waste time or miss work to deal with it.
The strategy is called Email Stacking.
It’s a simple, free way to ensure that your emails are organized efficiently. I first found out about this from Double Gemini, a company focused on productivity. You can learn more about the process here: https://www.stackmethod.com/
Here’s how it works. In your email platform, you create a series of folders. When an email comes in, if you don’t have time to respond to it or are waiting for a response from someone else to proceed, you add it to the appropriate folder to take care of when you have time.
You then organize your inbox display to show you these folders, so you can see at a glance what you need to do and what you need to respond to. And you won’t waste hours going through your backlog of emails!
I use these folders:
- Follow Up: Emails that need a direct response.
- Forward: Actions that need to be delegated to another team member.
- Meet: Any event or meeting that needs to be scheduled on your calendar.
- Review/Inspirado: Newsletters or emails you’re CC’d on or sent as inspiration for internal work. We like to send each other marketing emails from influencers or good examples of a copy.
- Do: Tasks that have to be done. Sometimes it’s easiest to send me an email and add it here.
- Backlog: Emails that haven’t received a response in a while or projects that are on pause.
This simple categorization makes it easy for me to quickly go to my inbox every day, move the appropriate emails where they need to go, and stay focused on the tasks at hand.
No more hours were wasted trying to hit Inbox Zero. Just 15 minutes every morning taking care of what needs to be done. Try it out and let me know if it works for you.