On Twitter I often see comments like “What a day – finally reached Inbox Zero!” – not the best way to spend a Saturday!
These tweets have often confused me. I’m a keen user of GMail so when an email drops off the first page (about email 40) then it disappears from view never to trouble me again unless I want to find it. This has served me well, alongside Priority Inbox that picks out the important emails, leaving the newsletters and Twitter updates to gradually drop off the page during the day.
My only niggle was my unread Emails number – I’d used a Lab in GMail to remove the unread number from my Inbox, but in Chrome, and on my iPhone the number grew ever higher. Earlier this week I hit 3000 unread emails, and when speaking to others I realised this might really stress some people out. I wasn’t worried because I knew that these were not important unread emails, but nevertheless I resolved to get to inbox zero.
I for one did not expect to reach Inbox zero in 30 seconds!
Step 1: In GMail type a filter such as in:inbox before:2011/03/25
Step 2: Select All
Step 3: Select All Conversations
Step 4: Archive!
All that was left for me to do was have a look at the previous few day’s emails and action them and Archive. Within 30 seconds I had reduced over 3000 unread emails in my inbox to zero.
You might panic! ”But where did all the emails go – how can you do that?!” All Archiving does is remove the Inbox label from an Email. All week I have been happily accessing emails from way back just as I did before – by using the search box. But my inbox itself is left just for emails I need to action. Everything else gets archived the moment I have read (or not read) it.
When I used Outlook in a Corporate environment the software asked me to make decisions like which emails to delete, which folder to put an email into, whether I wanted to Auto Archive, and into which .pst should the email go. If you had asked me to drag out an email from 2 years ago I might have spent hours trawling .pst files and still not found it. I remember those emails – “Your Exchange Folder is full – please delete emails to continue sending”.
I haven’t deleted a single email since I started using Google Apps and check out how close I am to the limit:
At this rate I could continue clocking up email for 33 years before I needed to delete a single one.
That is Inbox Zero without losing a single email!
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