I’m not sure if it was David Allen or someone else who first gave me this framework for thinking about inbound messages:
Your task list is the list of things that you think are important to do. Your email inbox is a list of tasks that other people are trying to assign you.
We’ve all heard about inbox zero, though definitions vary a bit. I aim for the literal version: once a day, I try to fully clear my email inbox. Note that this does not imply responding to every message or dealing with every action item. It simply means skimming through the list and removing all new messages from the inbox by:
- Deleting and/or spam-labeling a lot of it
- Responding to things that can be done in <2 minutes
- Adding relevant “to dos” to my task list
- Archiving everything else