Lately I’ve seen a lot of people posting and tweeting, bragging about how zero their inbox is. This is funny and sad at the same time.
It’s funny because they’re getting it wrong… it’s never about having an empty inbox. It’s sad because at the end of the day they have an empty inbox but they didn’t get anything done… they were too busy getting their inbox to zero 🙂
Maybe the name ruins it all.
Maybe people get it as “I should spend as much time as possible checking my email, cleaning it, moving it to folders or deleting it so I can get it out of my mind, because that has some sort of psychological effect, relieving me of my pains and stress”, taking it from an ongoing habit to permanent effort.
It’s ironic that something meant to help sort things out and liberate more time for creative and productive work… actually transforms into a time-consuming and stressful (“not at inbox zero yet… have to get there… omg”) activity.
Think about this: If you’re checking your email every 5 minutes, you’re checking for new email 24.000 times per year.
What’s worse is that it turns into some sort of procrastination aid.
It feels like productive work, because you are clearing stuff out. Right? You are advancing and getting somewhere. Right?
Well, no. Inbox zero isn’t somewhere.
Don’t set your goal to have inbox zero… set your goal to actually get more things done right, both in quantity and quality and you’ll get somewhere.