Written by Dave Mora
On Nov 17 , 2011 for Daily Rants

Reaching Inbox 0

 
  
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Dave Mora and Homer Simpson talk about e-mail and Inbox 0

I think most of us have heard the term “Inbox 0“. If you live in your e-mail client; having to deal with the large influx of e-mails is one of the biggest challenges you may have to deal with every time you decide to check your e-mail.

I have been dealing with e-mail for almost two decades. The first e-mail address that I got that did not end with a .edu was with Yahoo!. The first day that Yahoo! launch their free e-mail service I got my first and what I thought would be my only e-mail address that I would ever have.

Before Social Network sites the services such as Instant Messaging and E-mail were the social networks of that time. But, a major drawback of instant messaging was that everyone was on separate services and you were force to open e-mail accounts on every service provider. This started the trend of people having multiple e-mail accounts.

Then I started the habit of using separate accounts for separate things. My @yahoo.com was used to chat with friends and family, @hotmail.com was for the services I signed up for; so they can spam all they wanted, and my @isp-provider was to gain access to newsgroups and shell accounts.

I spent the next few years moving from provider to provider as new features came out. Thanks to an invite I received from someone who is always an early adopter in everything. I made a move to @gmail.com.

Then I moved to my own @domain.

So, why this whole story about my e-mail history?

Well, I enjoy talking and typing and if your still reading. I thank you for that 🙂

I just wanted to give an explanation on how I ended up with 8 separate e-mail accounts that I actively used. For me, achieving “Inbox 0” was the second battle. The first battle was to consolidate my e-mail life to just one inbox. This was also needed as people started to impersonate me online.

A single e-mail address seemed like the first logical step to provide the first level of verified communication.

It took almost a year of mail forwarding, updating my contact information, reminding everyone of my e-mail, setting up auto-responders and informing people of my new primary e-mail address.

I am a mail hoarder what can I say!

Not only did I simplify to a single e-mail address. I spent months combining all my e-mail messages. Moving e-mails out of all the web based e-mail providers was an unexpected tedious task. Getting them back to my new mail provider was easier but it just took a very long time.

Now that all my e-mail existed in a single mail box I was able to start my “Inbox 0” quest.

Who started the term Inbox 0?

Although, I have heard the term for a while I was not aware of who actually coined that term.

I am embedding the video below of the talk that Merlin Mann gave part of At Google Talks.



So now my mail inbox shows 15,547 new messages. Now What!

All my e-mail was labelled unread and that new icon taunted me. It was overwhelming at first but now I had to focus on stopping the floods of e-mails and tackle the inbox.

I spent almost a decade signing up for newsletters, websites that required you to created accounts to view their content such as news sites, and countless more online newsletters.

I did not want to block such e-mails with spam filters.

So, I spent the next five days manually reviewing every e-mail and following their unsubscribe links to ensure that I would not receive any more e-mails and I deleted them as I unsubscribed.

I then prepared my self to tackle the remaining e-mail. All 9,287 of them.

Many people set up mail rules, filters, or auto association macros in their e-mail clients. I used Outlook for years and that is what I did. I had a folder for each project and as my mail came in for those projects my mail rule moved my e-mail into those folders. What I discovered at this point in trying to achieve Inbox 0 was that mail rules do help your inbox seem organized. But, you end up having multiple folders acting like multiple inboxes showing you the same amount of unread e-mails and the e-mail problem continues to exists spread across multiple folders.

That was the main reason that this time around I decided to manually manage my e-mails. I will delete e-mails, and move e-mails to folders after I reply to them. Any e-mails that is not part of a conversation or contain crucial information will be deleted. The rest will be tagged and archive.

It took another two weeks to delete, reply, tagged, and archived my e-mail manually.

Although, I use my own domain for may e-mail. The mail part of domain is managed by Google for Business. Google has been great for me because their advance MX record and PTR Authentication features are things I have wanted from other providers. But, the best feature is IMAP Support. Most providers offer IMAP support for an extra fee and the rest don’t offer it at all. What IMAP has allowed me to do is keep my e-mail SYNC across all my devices.

When I get an e-mail. I can view it on my phone and reply to it. When I go to my home desktop my e-mail client would show that e-mail read and already have the e-mail I sent in the sent folder. If I login through GMail the web interface will reflect all that also along with showing me my new e-mail.

So, when I check my e-mail I can manage it the same way on any platform.

My move to a single e-mail and a single inbox took almost a year. But, I understand I am different because I had multiple inboxes with e-mails that date back to 1996 when HoTMaiL was a small company started by two former Apple Employees.

The Awesome Surprise.

When was released I had to deal with a frustration. When I was in Google+ and wanted to check my e-mail through the Google website. My session would be terminated. Logging back into Google+ would cause my e-mail session to be terminated.

That frustration was eliminated when Google allowed me to use my own domain login credentials to use all of their products. That included Google+ and Google Voice.

So, I can finally say that I have a single place of communication and I achieve Inbox 0 everyday with ease. When I spend less time with e-mail I have more time to enjoy life.

Plus, it helps that I set an expectation of 24 hours for all my e-mail replies. I check my e-mail twice a day. When my day starts and two hours before my day ends.

Now, if I can only figure out how to achieve “Bank Account +10,000 Dollars”.

If you read this whole post. I thank you for not falling asleep. Feel free to leave a comment. I might e-mail you a gift card to 🙂




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