How to Get Your Inbox Down to Zero and Keep it There

At the end of the weekend, I had gotten things down to five emails in my inbox, all of which required me to finish a major project I was still working on. Everything else was moved out of the inbox by doing the following:

If the email was from someone who needed something done for them (most of the time it was something simple like send a piece of example code, fill out an interview questionnaire, or review a product), I either did it immediately or politely declined. The judgment call on that was if it took more than 5 minutes to complete, it was declined. If it took less, I just made myself do it.
If the email was from someone who needed me to decide on something (whether I would attend an event, sponsor a contest, or review a guest post) I just made a fast decision and replied with my response of yes, I’ll be attending, yes I will sponsor, or no, that post doesn’t meet my guidelines.
If the email was from a newsletter or mailing list I had subscribed to, I created a new filter for it to go into a folder automatically when the next installment arrived or, if I didn’t plan to read it again, I unsubscribed.
If the email was something that I wasn’t interested in responding to, or regular enough to require a filter, I deleted it.
Sometimes, the toughest part of emptying out your inbox is finally saying no to something. I know many of my emails were hanging out in my inbox simply because they required me to say no to someone’s product review, guest post, event invitation, or some other request. Once you’ve started to say no to some things, it will make it easier to do in the future and leave your inbox open to receive more good requests that you will want to say yes to.


 

http://blog.kissmetrics.com

Here at KISSmetrics, we talk about all forms of online marketing for businesses, including email marketing. While beginner’s guides and email timing are important, there is also one other area that may not have a lot to do with marketing, but has everything to do with how effectively you can run your business (and personal life for that matter).

When you work online, you will find that the things that you need the most to maintain important business connections are also the things that will derail you from the path of productivitySocial media is well known to be filled with distractions. It is not the only place you’ll likely get into trouble though. There’s another online tool that can be just as distracting and disruptive to your productivity as it is a necessity. That tool is your inbox.

How Your Inbox Stops You from Getting Things Done

Your inbox can hinder your ability to get things done in two ways. The first are notifications. Even if you don’t have your email open on your desktop, you likely have alerts for new email set up on your smartphone. So if that alert goes off, your mind will always wander into thinking about what new email you just received. Sometimes that quick distraction is all it takes to get your focus off the task at hand.

Another way your inbox can stop you from getting things done is by being overloaded. I don’t know about you, but I work a lot more efficiently if I feel like I have a manageable to-do list. A flooded inbox with tons of emails waiting for responses does not feel manageable, and the more overloaded it gets, the less I want to deal with anything in it.

Why an Empty Inbox is a Happy Inbox

So why would you want to get your inbox down to zero? I like to look at an empty inbox at the end of the day as a day where everything that needed to get done was finished. Think of each email in your inbox as a task that needs to be completed. Email tasks generally boil down to the following four things:

  1. Someone needs you to complete something for them.
  2. Someone needs you to make a decision.
  3. Something needs to be filtered.
  4. Something needs to be deleted. Leer más “How to Get Your Inbox Down to Zero and Keep it There”

Get Organized Now: 3 Ways to Get Organized

Getting organized can be a huge pain the butt. Tasks pile up, your to-do list gets out of control, you feel overwhelmed with all that needs done, and you dread home office organization. Yet, if you want to have peace of mind and a clean work space, you need to get organized. So how to get organized, then? Well, you’re in luck, because this article features three ways to get organized.

Learning how to get organized is very simple. The point is to get organized so that you then focus on your important task at hand. Or your life. But definitely not focusing on the organizing itself. Getting organized is a means to an end.

So without further ado, here are the three ways to get organized:
1. Productively Procrastinate

You will inevitably procrastinate during part of your week. It’s fine – we all do. We’re only human. But just because you procrastinate doesn’t mean you need to waste time. You should productively procrastinate.

When you want to avoid doing the major task in front of you, take care of some not-as-important-but-still-useful tasks on your to-do list. The ones that don’t require much thought are especially good. Maybe it’s cleaning and organizing files and folders on your computer, or doing some home office organization. Anything that’s been lingering on your to-do list.

While these tasks aren’t the really important ones, they’re still useful. And rather than wasting your time surfing the web or watching cat videos, you can more effectively spend your procrastination time. Plus, you don’t have to set aside special time for getting organized: you simply use the pockets of time for when you feel like procrastinating. Productive procrastination is actually some of the best moments to get organized.


Organized

Getting organized can be a huge pain the butt. Tasks pile up, your to-do list gets out of control, you feel overwhelmed with all that needs done, and you dread home office organization. Yet, if you want to have peace of mind and a clean work space, you need to get organized. So how to get organized, then? Well, you’re in luck, because this article features three ways to get organized.

Learning how to get organized is very simple. The point is to get organized so that you then focus on your important task at hand. Or your life. But definitely not focusing on the organizing itself. Getting organized is a means to an end.

So without further ado, here are the three ways to get organized:

1. Productively Procrastinate

You will inevitably procrastinate during part of your week. It’s fine – we all do. We’re only human. But just because you procrastinate doesn’t mean you need to waste time. You should productively procrastinate.

When you want to avoid doing the major task in front of you, take care of some not-as-important-but-still-useful tasks on your to-do list. The ones that don’t require much thought are especially good. Maybe it’s cleaning and organizing files and folders on your computer, or doing some home office organization. Anything that’s been lingering on your to-do list.

While these tasks aren’t the really important ones, they’re still useful. And rather than wasting your time surfing the web or watching cat videos, you can more effectively spend your procrastination time. Plus, you don’t have to set aside special time for getting organized: you simply use the pockets of time for when you feel like procrastinating. Productive procrastination is actually some of the best moments to get organized. Leer más “Get Organized Now: 3 Ways to Get Organized”

14 Essential Utilities for Managing Your Freelance Design Business


While millions of people share the dream of working from home, very few understand its difficulties.

From online distractions to technical malfunctions, online entrepreneurs and freelancers face thousands of potential setbacks, each one threatening a decline in income or a pause in cash flow. We’re all familiar with this problem.

Yet the problem doesn’t affect every designer and developer. With so many tools available, anyone can optimize their work routine and increase productivity.

Becoming productive is about changing not only your behavior, but also your office environment, work style and software.

By using the right collection of software, online applications and utilities, changing your routine and managing your business can be fairly simple.

The following 14 applications are geared toward the design industry but would be effective in almost any online field.

1. EchoSign

From security to legal simplicity, there are hundreds of reasons to insist on a contract before starting a project. EchoSign is a simple online contract application that allows you to send and edit agreements before commencing a project. The pricing plans are clear, and the system itself is secure-some of the world’s largest banks, wholesalers and client-driven businesses use it.

 

2. Google Apps

Technically, Google Apps is a collection of several applications, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll consider it one all-purpose suite. If you host email through your server or hosting account, forward it through Google Apps’ hosted email service. It will help you not only set appointments efficiently, but also manage your contacts and other data easily. Leer más “14 Essential Utilities for Managing Your Freelance Design Business”

Six Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity

Add to all that the digital demands of the world we now inhabit. Armed with ever more ways to connect with each other, and to stay current in every moment, we often aren’t sure where to put our focus. We find it harder to give all of our attention to anything — or anyone — for very long.

The consequence is that we’re undertaking more and more tasks every day, but they often add up to less and less real value.

Just think about how many emails you now receive and respond to each day? There are 1307 sitting in my inbox right now. I suspect that two dozen at most genuinely merit my attention. But how to focus on those, and invest minimal time on the rest?


Anterior cingulate cortex.

by Tony Schwartz

It’s Labor Day in the U.S. as I write this post. To my own amazement, I’ve spent most of the past month truly relaxing — reading lots of books, playing tennis, running, hanging out with my family and eating food I mostly shouldn’t — scones and donuts for breakfast, BLTs and burgers for lunch. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Now it’s time to return to work. I feel lucky to have a job, and especially one I love, but the fall ahead is intense, daunting, and demanding, as I suspect it is for you. I’m anxious about the economy. I’m wondering when the next shoe is going to drop. I’m concerned about how my company will hold up if things do get worse.

Add to all that the digital demands of the world we now inhabit. Armed with ever more ways to connect with each other, and to stay current in every moment, we often aren’t sure where to put our focus. We find it harder to give all of our attention to anything — or anyone — for very long.
Leer más “Six Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity”

5 Plugins for Outlook Users with Gmail Envy

The announcement of Google’s Gmail Priority Inbox likely made more than a few enterprise knowledge workers stuck with Microsoft Outlook and drowning in e-mail quite envious of Gmail. That is, if they weren’t envious already. Marshall also took a look at a few plugins and services that are turning e-mail into a platform, including the incredible Rapportive.

Lucky for Outlook users, there are actually several plugins to extend Outlook’s functionality and ease that Gmail envy. E-mail addons have been heating up for a while now. Here are five plugins you should check out, whether you have Gmail envy or not.


The announcement of Google‘s Gmail Priority Inbox likely made more than a few enterprise knowledge workers stuck with Microsoft Outlook and drowning in e-mail quite envious of Gmail. That is, if they weren’t envious already. Marshall also took a look at a few plugins and services that are turning e-mail into a platform, including the incredible Rapportive.

Lucky for Outlook users, there are actually several plugins to extend Outlook’s functionality and ease that Gmail envy. E-mail addons have been heating up for a while now. Here are five plugins you should check out, whether you have Gmail envy or not. Leer más “5 Plugins for Outlook Users with Gmail Envy”

One Hour Push

I’m sure many of you have read “Getting Things Done”, David Allen’s excellent book for managing time in a chaotic and heavily demanding work context. This is where you have so much coming at you all the time. The book and philosophy helps you organize and survive it all. One of David Allen’s rules is called the “two minute rule”. The two minute rule means that if something takes two minutes or less then just do it– don’t even put it on your list — don’t prioritize it — you just need to knock it out and get it done.

I have applied this principle with varying degrees of consistency over the last four years and it has actually helped me accomplish a lot of things and keep my ‘To Do List’ manageable. But there is another principle which I call the ‘one hour push’ that is a little different but still consistent with GTD or other time management systems.

We often procrastinate or don’t start a difficult task or avoid things that are just not in our sweet spot because we fear our ability to ever complete the task. This fear may be grounded in “Do I have enough time to get this task done?” or it could be grounded in the belief that “We don’t have the necessary resources, abilities or talents to accomplish the task”. More importantly, we fear that the task will consume more of our day than we would have wanted to allocate to it.


I’m sure many of you have read “Getting Things Done”, David Allen’s excellent book for managing time in a chaotic and heavily demanding work context. This is where you have so much coming at you all the time. The book and philosophy helps you organize and survive it all. One of David Allen’s rules is called the “two minute rule”. The two minute rule means that if something takes two minutes or less then just do it– don’t even put it on your list — don’t prioritize it — you just need to knock it out and get it done.

I have applied this principle with varying degrees of consistency over the last four years and it has actually helped me accomplish a lot of things and keep my ‘To Do List’ manageable. But there is another principle which I call the ‘one hour push’ that is a little different but still consistent with GTD or other time management systems.

We often procrastinate or don’t start a difficult task or avoid things that are just not in our sweet spot because we fear our ability to ever complete the task. This fear may be grounded in “Do I have enough time to get this task done?” or it could be grounded in the belief that “We don’t have the necessary resources, abilities or talents to accomplish the task”. More importantly, we fear that the task will consume more of our day than we would have wanted to allocate to it. Leer más “One Hour Push”