How I've Succesfully Organized My Gmail Inbox For Good

Many of my friends have "LIKED" my empty Gmail Inbox on Facebook. It has been over two months now and after making it through the 3 week challenge of establishing a habit, my Gmail inbox is clean and organized so I can get to most every valuable e-mail I have. I spent a great deal of time reading and researching after reading Ken Zeigler's book, "Organizing for Success" (which I highly recommend).

The fact is most of us our running at the whim of messages and apps as they ding and sing at us all day.  It may even seem odd, as I usually talk about more "spiritual" topics.  But the truth is, most spiritual teachers, Christian and other, talk often about how we use our time so keep that in mind as you read.  Before you tackle your Gmail, I encourage you to tackle a few things first, in this order:

1. Plan your day first. Whether you're a FranklinCovey person or not, take the time and plan YOUR day. If you don't it will get planned for you. Whose gonna do that? Your technology.

2. Turn off the sounds! You don't need them for every cotton-picking text and message you get.

3. Commit to using and checking messages a few times a day. Really, you can do this and the world won't end. Do it in the morning, AFTER you've planned your day. Before or after lunch. Before you leave work. AND, if you must, do it an hour before bed.

4. Okay, now you're ready to get that Gmail Inbox cleaned-up and Jesse Chapman will tell you how here:  The Best Way to Organize Your Gmail Inbox.  If it seems too complicated, print off the copy and read through it and mark it up till you understand it.

- You may think you need more labels than he gives you. And you might, BUT don't add them UNTIL you've set-up your new system and get use to it.

- Just like paper, don't keep holding out filing e-mails. Do it when you get them.

- Divide and conquer. Organize your Gmail box first. Then take a break BEFORE you start deleting and filing. It took me a few hours to delete/file/unsubscribe so don't try to do it all at once.

-Enjoy. If I can help in anyway, let me know!


Kevin said...

I love this system. I use something a bit more complicated but inbox zero is a key component of my strategy. I especially love the notion of not filing messages into an organizing series of labels/folders... It is amazing how many people still spend hours a day doing that. Any message I need to find is always in the archive folder and a simple search away from my fingertips... :-)

For mac users with more complex follow up needs, I recommend Omnifocus as a task management / organizational tool in addition.

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