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My last post talked about how we use our calendar as a trusted system. A way we deal with time sensitive agreements and meetings. This week I want to speak about how we use our email inbox as a “trusted” system.

How many of us have a complex filling system within our email system? I have seen folders for each client and those broken into subfolders. We have folders for bills and folders for emails from family. I have seen folder systems so complex that there is no way to find what you needed much less be reminded that you need to act on something. Are you using your email folder as a reminder of agreements?

I suggest you take the time to move your emails out of Outlook, Exchange, Gmail or whatever you currently use and put this information into a trusted system. You should be able to review these commitments and act on them in a minimum of time.

Once you have processed your email system you should consider “InBox Zero.” Process your emails out of your inbox and into your trusted system. Some of my job requires that I work from emails. I move those to a folder named “Action.” Everything I need to accomplish today or tomorrow goes in that folder. Longer term projects go into my GTD system that I have in OmniFocus.

I have one other folder called Review. I place emails that contain articles that I want to read at a later time. Sometimes I move those articles to Evernote. This is all I have other than an archive folder which I backup monthly using http://www.mailsteward.com.

From time to time I need to review an email a client has sent me. I take advantage of Smart Folders. I will setup a conditional script that may say something like: Contains messages that match ALL of the following conditions: FROM – CONTAINS – @client.com. This script doesn’t move anything, it just collects them in a folder you can review quickly. When the message is archived and or deleted from the archive folder it won’t show up in the smart folder.

The final thing about InBox Zero is the amount of stress that is removed, knowing that you have little to no emails in your inbox.

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Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright is a graphic designer and podcaster living in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find his design work at shawnwright.net. You can find his podcasts, Alabama Short Stories at alabamashortstories.com and the Shades Cahaba Oral History Project podcast at shadescahabahistory.com. His designs are for sale at TeePublic.com, Redbubble.com and Society6.com.
Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright

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