Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Join the Inbox Zero Movement

I have 6 email accounts and two of the best moments of my workday startup and shutdown are getting to Inbox Zero.

At first, it may seem hard, but once you start and create the habit, these are two victories in your day, every day.

These are the five tips I’ve learned from experience.

Folders

The first tip is to create folders for the emails you like to keep. In this way, each time I receive an email which fits in one of the folders, I keep it after reading. Since most emails in my inbox go to these folders, I get closer to “zero.”

Snooze

The e-mail app I use is Spark from Readdle. It allows me to snooze some of my emails to read them later in the day, or another day. With a simple snooze, more e-mails leave my Inbox getting it closer to Zero.

Unsubscribe

Often we receive an email from subscriptions we made or had to subscribe to get an offer. If I don’t open subscription emails more than three times in a row, unless I know why, it means I’m no longer interested in the content. The best thing to do is unsubscribe. In time, we decrease the amount of emails in our Inbox. From experience, the effect is almost immediate.

Spam

Most emails are just spam. Therefore, it is useful to have an app which allows marking these emails. From that point onward, we stop receiving them, getting us even closer to our goal. There’s one more tip, which is the hardest for most.

Delete

I’m not afraid of deleting emails because we can get information in multiple ways. Even if we delete an email by mistake and empty the Trash, through other platforms like Social Media, we can still find the information lost.

The idea that deleting emails is hard is something else, not the fear of missing out (FOMO). Laziness, love for the person which send us the email, there are lots of “what if…” Forget it. Cleaning your mailbox can be as hard as cleaning the house, but one thing is guaranteed, once achieved becomes an achievement. And we feel such joy we start paying greater attention to the emails that matter.

At last, emails can be a weapon of mass distraction, but when we lose sometime disarming it, we will get to “Inbox Zero.” And one thing I assure you… it is followed by a time of peace and quiet.

Join this “Inbox Zero” movement. We can start one day, or choose day-one to start. If I were you, I’d start today.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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