The Anxiety of Getting To Zero


Too many emails leads to pain and stress – it makes you less productive.

The only way to be productive on emails is to control it with a workflow and system.

M-E-L at Ishbadiddle logs his way of clearing up his of doing it. Even though he demonstrates this with the focus of Outlook, the framework can be apply across different email clients:

… For many of us, one of the hardest places in our lives to achieve the State of Grace is our email inboxes. There’s that constant inflow of messages, ranging from the important to the informative to the amusing to the offensive. There’s spam. And there’s our tendency, even after reading David Allen’s book, to use our inbox as a to-do list.

So what to do? I’ve read up on methods like 43 Folders’ Process to Zero. My main problem with this method (and David Allen’s) is that your important messages, the ones you are supposed to actually do something about, are put into a folder (@Action or @Process or whatever). Which is fine in theory. In practice, whenever I try to use this method, I do not open the @Action folder. Why? Simple. Because I don’t have to. It’s Pandora’s folder, and I know that all the things I’m anxious about lie within. So I don’t touch the damn thing. The problem is worse instead of better.

My inbox, on the other hand, leaves me no choice. I have to open it. But I need a way to deal with a 250-message inbox. A way that won’t cause me more anxiety than the third-rail folder solution.


So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to temporarily hide the “Action” emails, enabling us to concentrate on sorting (or quickly dealing with) the rest…

The Anxiety of Getting To Zero – [Ishbadiddle]

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