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This is a screencast lesson for clearing your email inbox. This applies to any inbox but it will show how to process your email inbox in a way that is simple and organized.

The System

  1. Set a Time. Before we dive into inbox, as part of our systems, we set the times we are going to check email. That might be a specific time, like 9:00am, 1:00pm, and 5:00pm. It could be when you first get into work in the morning, at lunchtime, and right before you leave. Setting a time for dealing with messages can also work for Apps, Facebook Messages, and Texts. Pick the one that works best for you.
  2. Think of it as a sacred space. You are going to one thing with intention. This space is not just a quick open of the tab and is a way to distract yourself. This is a space where you mindfully, with your full heart, respond  to people’s emails or clear your inbox to get organized.
  3. Set an Intention. My intention here is just to clear as much as I can.
  4. Dive into the inbox. This is a gmail inbox but you can use any kind of email program.
  5. Work from the top down. Clear one at a time from the inbox. Deal with it as completely as possible.
  6. Types of Email 
    1. Tasks. Emails with tasks to do can be organized into another bucket, otherwise it will get lost in the emails. One is an errand, so go to a to-do program, like Todoist.com. You can add a task in the to-do list. If you can do right away, do it. If not, just let them know by replying to the email. I use the Gmail reply and archive option, which archives it after. I reply and move onto the next email.
    2. Work Requests. Your boss may ask you to turn in a report. Put in on your to-do list and reply to the email. It was completely dealt with.
    3. Friends. You can reply to it right now or if it is going to take a longer response, put it as a task to reply. You can star it and archive it. It allows you to come back to the email because it will take longer to deal with. It is in a to-do list so you won’t forget and it is starred folder.
    4. Marketing emails. I want this out of my inbox. Quickly unsubscribe. As much as possible, do that to simplify your inbox. Then you can delete it.
    5. Important Information. You can save it or copy the information and put it into GoogleDocs, Evernote, TripIt, or whatever you would want reference information. Archive and save it for when you need it.
  7. Complete your intention and close your inbox. 

Clear your inbox. One at a time, you:

Each email is either deleted or archived. In that way, each email gets out of my inbox. My inbox can easily be cleared. If I have time for longer replies, I can spend a few minutes doing it. Otherwise it is archived or in my to-do list.

That is a simple system with simple actions. You can do this with email or any messages you receive.

Don’t forget to do your weekly check-in on Slack.