Conquer Email Backlog with Inbox 0.5

When you finally decide you're going to empty your inbox on a regular basis, the hardest part is getting started—most likely because you're already buried under an avalanche of messages. Blogger Jason Clarke offers a sensible approach to that first, most difficult push towards Inbox Zero, and he calls it Inbox 0.5. Clarke says that you can cut down a huge pile of messages without losing an entire weekend by processing HALF the number of backed up messages you've got each day. So if you're starting with 700, reduce that to 350 the first day. If you've got 400 the next day, reduce that to 200. Rinse and repeat till you've conquered the backlog and are just maintaining an empty inbox with new mail that arrives.

What I like about this approach is that it's incremental, and it eases new empty inbox practitioners towards the goal instead of making them suffer through hours of backlog processing at the get-go. But the most important thing about adopting the empty inbox lifestyle is getting into the habit of processing all the new messages that come in today, today. So I'd add this to Inbox 0.5: In addition to processing half your backlog each day? Also be sure to process the newest messages you've received.

Merlin Mann's approach—what he calls the "Email DMZ"—involves skipping the old mail processing temporarily and moving all your backlog into a DMZ folder right away. The advantage there is that you get the beautiful empty inbox feeling immediately—and the motivation to keep it empty—but many users are afraid they'll move something crucial into DMZ and never look at it again. With Inbox 0.5, it's a longer road to "No new messages," but perhaps a more comforting one. Be sure to check out how to process your mail quickly and easily using three simple folders here.


    Instead of a DMZ, why not use a folder called 'Done'? This provides you with the psychological comfort you need to know its still all there whilst cutting down the Inbox to a manageable size. Let's face it, if an email has sat in your Inbox and hasn't required an action for a couple of months or so, the likelihood is that you're never going to take any action on it. If it really is that important the sender will get back to you prompting you to life again! So move it out and get on with 4-ing your 'live' Inbox items - a much better use of previous time. At Orla ( we have figured all this stuff out and converted it into a plug in for Outlook and the two hours on line training you need to get to inbox zero and stay that way.

    Great blog by the way. Just came across it yesterday.

    Keep up the good work



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