How to slay the dragon of distraction and win your inbox

You see it all the time, on your phone, on your computer, and even on your watch. It is constantly reminding you that to do list items are jumping into your inbox one little email at a time. In some ways it is like a dragon that breathes lists, projects, tasks, and information overload into your already busy life. Rather than letting your inbox pile up and having a semi system that you triple check to make sure you didn’t miss anything, what if you could win your inbox?

As we continue in our series on the best workday ever,  we move on from celebrating, and tracking our progress to slaying the dreaded dragon of distraction: your inbox. The goal is to clean up your inbox in order to make your to-do list make more sense and to spend the majority of your day on work that matters and not just responding to the demand of the urgent. In our Best Workday Ever E-book we introduce a framework to that allows you to fully master your inbox as well as implement a full practice of productivity. In the meantime, here are a few quick tips to get you started:

Schedule a dedicated time

One of the reasons our inbox can be so overwhelming is because it is a never ending stream of unread and unanswered messages. To respond to these all in real time is unrealistic and would take over your entire day. Having a dedicated time to win your inbox puts necessary boundaries in place. We asked our community when they prioritize winning their inbox. 57% said they tackle it first thing in the morning. 21% said in the afternoon when they need a break from other projects and 7% opt for the evening as a way to wrap up the day while 14% said they are still figuring it out (hey, it’s about progress). One member, Ashlee, even specified that she does a deep dive every Friday from 12-4. It may take some time to figure out what works for you but implementing a dedicated time to work through your inbox will alleviate the pressure to have to respond to every message immediately. When that time is over, move on to the next thing and save whatever is left for the next time.

Know your options

Not all emails are created equal and our responses to them should not be either. When you survey your email inbox there are a few options for us to employ. Deleting spam and subscriptions, creating categories for the message you need to reference later, snoozing or delaying messages for another time, developing canned or scripted responses for repeated messages are all ways to quickly cut through the clutter and move through the majority of your messages.

Make progress the goal

The key is to remember that practice is better than perfection and knowing that you have a consistent time and framework to move through your emails will allow you to stay on top of all your communications while not being completely drowned by an overflowing inbox. Imagine what you could do with all of the time and energy you now have to redirect back into doing meaningful work!

P.S. For more guidance in your productivity, and for the full framework to win your inbox, subscribe and receive our E-book, “Best Workday Ever," or become a member in our online community.