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Lazy Sundaze – Having a Clean Inbox

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I use Gmail exclusively for email, and it constitutes a major part of my work. I get a fair amount of email each hour, and I am pretty quick at responding.

However, one thing you’ll notice about my Gmail inbox is that it is just about always empty.

It gives me a Zen feeling to have a clean inbox, a feeling of peace and calm and satisfaction. I highly recommend it to everyone. I wasn’t always like this – I had many emails in my inbox in the past. They would sit in there, sometimes unread, sometimes just waiting on an action, sometimes waiting to be filed, and others just waiting because I was procrastinating. I also had many folders for filing my email, so I could find them when I needed them. It would take me awhile to file sometimes, so I would put it off. Many people I know are the same way.

But GTD changed that (as well as 43 Folders and others). For quite some time now, I’ve been fairly consistent about having a clean inbox.

Here are my simple steps to achieving just that:

1) Don’t check email first thing in the morning, or have it constantly on. This is a tip offered by many blogs, so nothing new here. Checking email first thing will get you stuck on email for a while. Instead, do your most important thing for the day, or the thing you’ve been procrastinating on the most. Then check email. Better yet, do 2 or 3 things first. Also, if you are constantly checking email throughout the day, or it notifies you as soon as an email comes in, you will be constantly distracted and not able to focus on the task before you. I check once an hour, but you might have different needs.

2) When you check your email, dispose of each one, one at a time, right away. Make a decision on what you need to do on each email.

2a) Is it junk or some forwarded email? Trash it immediately.