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No to email!

I was really impressed by Rob @ Beyond Norm’s innovative Zero Inbox Strategy in January.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Rob vowed to empty his inbox on a daily basis and achieve zero emails lurking down the bottom of his To Do List before finally falling off it altogether.

Now as a virtual assistant, most of my communication is via email.   Per day I probably receive over 200 emails as a conservative estimate.  It’s simply not possible to deal with all of them, and not all of them need actioned straight away.  But how realistic was it to adopt this strategy myself? Now of course I have various folders and automatic responses and CCs working hard for me.  But I still had lots of emails in my inbox because “I’ll get round to them later”.

Well, I’m rather pleased to say that the Zero Inbox Strategy has worked rather well – the key to it is, of course, to start from a blank canvass.  Be brutal.  Delete/archive them all and start afresh with any new that comes in.

I found that I saved loads of emails which were completely pointless.  And that I ummed far more than necessary over what I should do with an email, because without the impetus to only deal with it once, you just leave it lying there.

See also  Email Management - great example!

So did it work?  Well as of this moment, I have a total of 3 emails in my inbox – and they are all pertinent to tasks I have to do tomorrow morning.  An outstanding success!


  1. Rob on 15 March, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Three cheers for you, my friend!

    Congrats on trying out the method. I know a few people who’ve been using it to great success, and I’m super-pleased that it’s working for you too! Thanks for linking to the blog, and I hope to write more that’ll be of use to you! 🙂

  2. Emily on 16 March, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I’m a huge advocate of a zero inbox, I do have folders that I move “Actionable” emails into but all of them go onto my task list and are deadlined. I don’t get a lot of spam either and am quick to stamp it out.

    Well done Caroline!

  3. Sally Blewett on 18 March, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I delved further into Rob’s article list and found one on 21 ways to be location independent as I thought it might throw up some innovative VA tips. Not really, it’s more about jobs that allow you to work anywhere. An interesting article but I think our members may question Rob’s rating of the skills required to be a VA as 4/10. Now I’m off to try to implement his Zero Inbox Strategy. LOL

  4. Ifeoluwa Onasile on 28 March, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Congrats! I hope to follow in your footsteps!

  5. Lisa Nolan on 22 December, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Great to see find this post and the responses. I started a similar policy myself last year – basically because I was finding it so difficult to isolate the important messages! It does require a high level of ruthlessness – but it really works because then you are immediately tuned in when the important e-mails land in. I love de-cluttering – so that helps!


  6. Donna on 2 October, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I have always tried to work with an empty in-box, I try to action as they arrive and then file or delete, I have a fairly good filing system so if I file it I can usually remember where it is at a later date should I need to go back to it. A tidy in-box = a tidy mind! (and a good nights sleep!)

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