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How to maintain inbox zero with Flow-e for Gmail and Outlook

When it comes to email, the messages we get make up an essential part of our modern-day communications. However, sorting through them takes up an immense amount of time.

That time we could spend by doing more of what we like, need or enjoy.

What is inbox zero

Inbox Zero is an approach to email management. The aim is to keep the inbox empty (or almost empty) at all times.

Inbox Zero was developed by Merlin Mann, a productivity expert. Mann says that the inbox zero is not a reference to the number of messages you receive; it is “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” Mann’s point is that time, and attention is confined, and the inbox should not be confused with a “to do” list because then productivity suffers.

According to Mann, there are five possible actions to take for each message:

  • Delete;
  • Delegate;
  • Respond;
  • Defer;
  • Do.

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

Achieving Inbox Zero in 8 Simple Steps

1) Delete or archive as many new messages as possible

Any emails which are not essential have to be deleted immediately. Including spam, junk, and the promotional emails, that come into your Inbox.

These emails have to leave your email Inbox quickly! They will clutter up your email inbox, so don’t skip them. If they’re useless to you, just move them to trash.

2) Delegate what can be best answered by others

If the email you receive can be resolved better by someone else, delegate it. It is crucial to know when a given topic can be solved by someone else in your organization.

You can delegate emails easily with Flow-e, an inbox-zero tool, hassle-free. Get notifications when the delegated emails are marked as done by your colleagues.

3) Respond to any new messages that can be answered in three minutes or less

Any simple task has to be dealt with right away (don’t putt them off just because they are easy to handle). Emails that arrive in your email Inbox and take less than three minutes to answer should be responded immediately.

4) Move new messages that require more than three minutes to reply to a separate “requires response” board (with Flow-e)

We cannot escape from these emails that take up a significant portion of our time.

In order not to bury them in our workflow, we can always move them to a separate board until we have enough time to deal with them.

With Flow-e you can do just that. Flow-e gives you the opportunity to create a dedicated board where you can move all the emails that need more time to answer.

5) Process email periodically throughout the day

If you receive a lot of emails per day, you may have already noticed that they are an interruption to your day.

I have found that the best way to handle emails is to open them only at certain times.

Some people check their email first thing in the morning, while others refuse to do so. Some people check their email once per 1-2 hours.

Of course, this is more personal preference, and you should see what works best for you.

6) Unsubscribe from time-wasting emails

A nonrelevant email can be a time-waster. Your game is to eliminate such emails. Take it as an opportunity.

If you keep missing the value in emails received from a given sender, then you may want to unsubscribe from them permanently.

Unleash more time for what’s worth reading.

7) Keep emails short

One of the first things to do if you want to adopt the inbox-zero habit is to start writing shorter emails.

You don’t need to write novels when answering an email, plus people just don’t have time for reading long emails.

So, from now on, you better start precisely answering emails, rather than filling them with fluff.

8) Pro Tip: Convert emails into tasks (with Flow-e)

Many of the emails you receive will need some additional action.

For example, you may need to add a to-do list or to add additional tasks to an email you have received about writing an article.

And how advantageous it will be if you could turn emails into tasks or add to-dos?

Flow-e lets you convert emails into task list by adding to-dos. It integrates within your inbox, allowing you to track their progress.

The post How to maintain inbox zero with Flow-e for Gmail and Outlook appeared first on B2B Labs.

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More Stories By Ben Bradley

Known for wearing plaid and sweater vests before they were popular, Ben Bradley is managing director of Macon Raine, Inc. ( - a management consulting, marketing and demand generation firm for technology organizations. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and was a member of the undergraduate Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His interests include the intersection of technology and marketing. Because he was never very good at sports and doesn’t have many hobbies, his primary interests include the role of marketing on internal technology adoption, micro-finance, military uses of technology and media, self-organizing networks, network and physical security, collaboration and groupware. He frequently lectures his children on a variety of topics. Bradley was raised in Wheaton, Illinois and currently resides in Glen Ellyn, Illinois with his wife, two children and a purebred Latvian Goathound named Stella.