Inbox as a task list

So, yesterday I read this. It echoed a lot of how I approach my inbox as a task list, and some of the ideas there pushed my inbox-fu to black belt levels. However I work in a different environment then Keith does, with a lot more customer facing email. I’ve merged Keith’s ideas with my workflow, and have come up with a gmail centric inbox-fu which is agile, powerful, and above all easy.

First off you’ll need to get the tools that you will need. I use the wonderful boomerang to schedule things. You will also need to set your inbox to “starred first”:

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 8.35.52 AM

This will give you a good view into what you need to work on.

So, now that you have your workspace set up, you’ll need to start dealing with email. As Keith says “triage”. Deal with your email. If it’s going be more then a line or two of text, or 30 seconds to research, star it and forget it. If it’s a task that you need to follow up on later, boomerang it. If it’s none of the above, archive it. When you are done with your unstarred items, start on the bottom of your starred list and take the time to deal with them correctly.

I set aside a few times a day to deal with keeping up with my inbox. If I set aside time, I find that I’m not worrying about it as much. I also know that I can use downtime to catch up if I need to.

I think that the secret here is ruthless triage. You have to keep in mind that people’s feelings will not be hurt if you mute their email threads, or skim and archive them. Be a stone faced email killer. Only star the few things that you need to respond to, and archive everything else when you read it. I cannot stress that enough. If you wait a while, you will never do it. Now, excuse me while I archive the email that came in while I wrote this.

ABA (Always Be Archiving)