Different Ways of Being Productive in your Inbox

The classic way of being productive in your email inbox is:

  1. Open Inbox
  2. Read new emails
  3. Respond to things
  4. Reduce inbox to zero or as close as you can with the time you have

But that’s not the only way to be productive. Say you’re in a situation where you can’t really do good reply emails. Maybe you’re on your phone and the tiny keyboard isn’t good enough for a proper reply. Or you just aren’t in the brain space for writing. But reading is OK — you feel like reading. Productivity can be:

  1. Open Inbox
  2. Read each email in the inbox with a fresh mind and with zero pressure to actually reply right now
  3. Imagine what the reply might be like, later. Give your brain a chance to chew on it.
  4. That’s it

There is other work you can do even if you aren’t in the mood for replying: janitorial work! Say you’ve come back from a few days off and the inbox is bulging. An entirely productive thing to do is:

  1. Open Inbox
  2. Swipe away all the emails that don’t need any action from you
  3. Take the opportunity to unsubscribe from things that you can just tell you don’t need in your inbox anymore like ever
  4. Leave alone the stuff that will need more thought, later
  5. That’s it

Here’s another one.

  1. Open Inbox
  2. Look at that one haunting email in there that you know is the most difficult or most effort to answer
  3. Just deal with that one
  4. That’s it

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