How I Learned to Stop Being Dominated by My Inbox

I Turned It Off

Everyone complains about email. There’s a reason: it’s a big stack of todos without context, priority, categorization, and some emails are hard to quickly handle and sit there representing a bunch of non-project work that needs to be done.

Message queues with no context destroy your productivity. They scramble your brain.

The best way to handle queues – whether it’s email, text messages, project management, etc – is to turn it off and batch process in a constrained amount of time.

Tim Ferris checks email only twice a day. This might be too extreme given the culture you are working in, but turning off your email for hours at a time could be a game changer. Try it.

I Stopped Feeling an Obligation to Respond

There is an unspoken obligation we feel to answering every email. A feeling of failure if we don’t clear our inbox. This took me a while to learn:

You don’t have an obligation to respond to every single email

This means you can delete emails without reading or responding. Feel the freedom to clear the inbox of requests that don’t hold significant value for you: focus is key to accomplishing anything great.

Read how top CEO’s manage their inbox. None of us get as much email as them, but it doesn’t mean we can’t use some of their strategies.

I Unsubscribed from Everything That I Didn’t Consistently Read

Our culture is permeated by the fear of missing out. I hate unsubscribing from newsletters that I’ve gotten something valuable from in the past; I fear that I’m going to miss out on something important in the future.

However, if something is important, you’ll hear about it. Or you’ll search for it. Or someone else will tell you about it.

The information isn’t going away, and it’s impossible to keep up with the firehouse of information. Unsubscribe from every newsletter/mailing list you haven’t read in the last couple weeks. Trust me: it helps.