The Holy Grail at Work – Inbox ZERO

December 13, 2017 The TNS Group

At every workplace environment I go, every friend’s iOS or Android mail app I see, I realize there are two different kinds of people in this world: those who need to have a clean Inbox, and everyone else.

The ‘new’ mail message counter piles up by the thousands, or tens of thousands, prompting myself to ask: ‘HOW CAN YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?’ (Ok, a little extreme, but really, HOW)? As a reader, you now know which camp I fall into—the NOT everyone else.

What’s the Work-around?

If you are in the same camp or have seen the light, and want to remove that pesky counter telling you that you have 28,946 unread items you have come to the right place.

Email is constantly vying for your attention, yet we know not every email was created equal (in importance), and not every email ‘flows’ with your schedule for the day. For example, an email may come in first thing in the morning asking for a status update, but I may want to address it later, as my schedule already has time blocked to work on that item. Sending an email to say: ‘I will send you an email later,’ is in my eyes, a waste. I rather the recipient have a complete update when it is ready…and not fill their inbox in the process.

So how do we address inequality in importance, and email ‘flow’? My two biggest tips: find an email client you like, and then SNOOZE your email.

We spend a lot of time on our mobile devices. The Mail app on iOS and the Gmail app on the Android side are serviceable, but I prefer using Spark on iOS. The reason why is simple. A few years ago an app called Mailbox was released, and it had a couple of great features: one that learned your actions when you swiped left or right on a message, so it could automatically, and intelligently ‘swipe’ emails for you, and the other, a ‘snooze’ aka, address later function. It was later bought out (for a cool $100MM), and its last date of service was February 26th, 2016.

(For you Android users, try using the free Microsoft Outlook App, as it allows the features discussed here). 

Once you have either of those downloaded, take the time to configure alerts for only VIPs, or for emails marked as ‘high importance’. This will cut down immensely on the number of incoming notifications but will leave you in a position to then ‘snooze’ the ‘less important’ emails so that you receive a reminder to address them at a time that is convenient for your schedule. 

If you simply must address email, then try to limit yourself to key points in the day that surround your downtime, or downtime in the office. That makes it much easier to get through any spam or address less important items while putting more important ones on your radar. The key to zero is to simply take control of when you are addressing your email, and not have it dictate your schedule. 

By: Pete Fuss, Engineering, The TNS Group