How to Get to INBOX 0 (yes, it is possible)

I dread it. Opening my inbox and knowing I have thousands of emails makes my heart beat a little faster and my stress level rise. There is too much to go through every day, so much to sort and answer. At times, I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions and putting out fires all day. By the time 7 pm rolls around, I am extremely exhausted and have no emotional energy for anything else in my life.

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Your inbox is a pretty important place for your business. Letting emails go unnoticed or having them get lost is a problem that is much too common. The inbox can either save you a lot of time or have you lose a lot of time, it can suck your day up quicker than a lot of other tasks, too. But this is something that is really important because you don't want 25% of your day going to the email. Don't let it suck up your time. When I ran my freelance company, my inbox was a sore point. When I checked my inbox it would typically be a two-hour task and I knew it would require a lot of extra work, more than just "replying to emails." I honestly ended up dreading it because I felt like it had become chained to me. Let's conquer your inbox. You can do this. Pinky promise it will be worth all the time you invest in this task!

Step One | Create Your Categories

Create a system that works for you. Make a list of categories that most of your tasks or emails fall under. For example, my list would include "Clients, Storage, Action, Internal, and Marketing" I will break down each folder and how this helps with the system I have created: Action - If I need to reply or respond to this email in a way that will take more than a few seconds, I drop it on over to this folder. Collabs - Since I work with a lot of different ladies through my podcast, guest posting, and YouTube videos I love this folder. If the email is collaboration related I just drop it in this folder once I replied! Clients - If I have replied to a client or fixed a problem through email, I will then put it in this folder. But if an email comes from a client that I have not solved I would put it in the "action" folder, then once I have completed the task, I would move it to this folder. Marketing - I'm a nerd. So I created a folder of emails just for marketing advice and tips that I want to keep for the future. I have a professional development board on the organizational platform I use so when I go through the emails I'll transfer over the notes or highlights to that board and then delete the email.

Step Two | Purpose of the Action Folder

This action folder is gold. Why? Because all you have to worry about is in that action folder. Once you have gone through this folder and sorted these emails out after completing the tasks, you do not have to worry about anything else. You are free to have space in your mind to think about something else other than your emails. Seeing your inbox go to 0 and knowing that all the important emails that need an action taken on them are in this action folder is an awesome feeling.

Step Three | Personalize + Change

Add folders as you go. Personalize this system however it fits your email best. I suggest not having over 5 folders but everyone is different and you may need 8 or 12. However you want to organize your folder system, go for it! Everyone has their own workflows in place for their inbox so feel free to personalize whatever you need to. Change it, make it yours.

Step Four | Keep With It

This works. Works well enough to grant me extra white space in my brain (which I love) and well enough to cure my stress induced panics I used to have that were connected to my overflowing inbox. I didn't believe it was possible to consistently keep your inbox at zero by the end of every day. But it is possible! Anyone can do this. There are multiple people who have used this strategy and have testified to the power of it, after their own twist and personalization. So have fun organizing your inbox and personalizing your email command center. I truly hope your mind doesn't feel chained down to your inbox every second of your life once you put this proven system in place. It's definitely worth investing time in up front while you set all your folders up and start categorizing your emails. By the time I was finished sorting through thousands of emails, I felt relief.

Step Five | Schedule Wisely

You schedule your social media, virtual coffee dates, and collaborations. You block off time for management, goal-making, and content creation. But do you schedule your time wisely when it comes to checking your e-mails? Most of us go throughout our day casually checking our inbox and then get sucked into the black hole of responding and adding all these little tasks to the to-do list. Don't check your email throughout the day. Choose two times throughout your day that you know you will go through your email and respond as needed. This could be at noon + 4pm or whatever time fits your schedule best. Now that you have a system in place you can go through your inbox and once you have replied + completed the e-mail you can drop it on over to the fitting folder. And just like that, it is out of your sight. This schedule will help tremendously and saves you a lot of time at the end of the day. Zero is a cool number. So let's shoot for it together.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

I'm Mara, a Yorkie obsessed fur mom who is currently working at a rockin' agency as an ad strategist as well as the founder of Market Beautifully. The community I have created on maraburkes.com has become an extensive resource for lady entrepreneurs at multiple points of their journey as a business owner whether that be in the dreaming stage, building stage, or scaling stage.

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