Getting Your E-mail Inbox to Zero

Merlin Mann is one of my favorite productivity gurus. I have been reading his blog for a couple of years now.

Recently, Merlin gave a lecture at Google. It was entitled “Inbox Zero.” In this lecture, he provides a conceptual framework and practical tips for managing your e-mail workload. He also answers questions from the audience.

Even though I have written a great deal on this topic myself, I still found his insights very helpful.

One of the most helpful things he says is that we need to stop e-mail from taking over our lives. In our teams and workgroups, we must define what constitutes “responsiveness.”

As I have written about previously, I think checking e-mail twice a day is sufficient. If someone needs an answer faster than that, they can call me. It is amazing how much you can get done if you turn your e-mail off and actually work through your to-do list.

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  • Rachel Hauck

    Maybe it’s important to manage our email so we do more face-to-face, voice-to-voice communication.

    Relationships are still a vital part of any work place. Too much emailing cancels the need to face someone, or talk through issue and build relationship.

    I’m glad people are starting to speak out on the downside of such a great tool.

    All in moderation, right? :)


  • Jeff D

    I watched this on Thursday night last week and didn’t leave work until my e-mail was truly “processed” and the inbox was empty.

    Now… do I truly turn the email “radio” off on the blackberry….


  • Joel Miller

    I am highly appreciative of this continued discussion on better managing email. It’s probably the biggest challenge in my daily worklife, and the ongoing conversation about getting the ebeast under control has been a great encouragement and valuable resource for me. . . . And now, uh, back to clearing out that inbox.

  • Sol

    Thank you for this – wonderful stuff!

  • Mike Morrell

    I just discovered your blog today–are you telling me that there’s hope for the 200+ unread personal messages perpetually in my Inbox? I shall be reading your archives, sir!

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