Imagine spending one month only addressing emails. While this seems like an exaggerated timeframe for email, it's actually quite accurate for many employees. Multiple surveys report the average worker spends 28% of each workday on email. Another survey reports the standard time it takes a worker to check their email (personal and work-related) is 6.3 hours a day. When you add up all those hours, the total amount of time spent on email exceeds 30 days per year.
While undoubtedly essential, email management shouldn't take a full month’s time. In this article, we'll show you how to reduce this burden using Inbox Zero principles in just a few simple steps.
How to Achieve Inbox Zero in Gmail
What is Inbox Zero? Developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann, Inbox Zero is an approach to email management aimed at reducing the stress of the constant influx of emails and streamlining your inbox with automated tasks. Achieving an empty inbox is nearly impossible unless you simply block all incoming messages, which defeats the purpose of email itself.
Most people receive dozens—even hundreds—of daily emails, many of which require an action item rather than simply reading. While it seems logical to flag an email to address later, postponing further action now simply pushes the deadline back and hinders an efficient workflow. Even though the email requires no immediate action, you still know it’s waiting for you—this displaced attention can cause additional stress.
The goal of Inbox Zero is NOT about having an empty inbox: it’s a state of mind that focuses on moving tasks out of your head so you can focus on more urgent responsibilities. You can implement these six simple steps to reduce email-induced stress in the pursuit of Inbox Zero.
1. Streamline Your Inboxes
If you’re juggling multiple email accounts, it makes sense to streamline the process and send all emails to a central account. Gmail makes it easy to forward emails from one email account to another. Once you’ve done this, you’ll still want to send messages on behalf of these accounts. Follow these instructions to learn how.
Another step to streamlining accounts is to set up a shared inbox. Designed for team collaboration, shared inboxes allow team members to manage company email addresses such as sales@ and support@ together. A shared inbox allows multiple users to access the same email address without the need to share passwords. This method of email management increases collaboration and transparency among teams.
Create a shared inbox in just a few simple steps with Gmelius. Get started for free.
2. Delete – Do It – Delegate – Defer It
Spam, promotions, and junk emails clutter your inbox. If an email is unimportant, delete it immediately. These types of emails should leave your inbox just as quickly as they came in to keep your email count low.
Any message in your Inbox that takes three minutes or less to address should be handled straight away. Putting off simple tasks creates larger, more demanding tasks in the long run. Complete the task quickly, then archive the email.
Getting work done is one thing, but delegating is an entirely different matter. It’s important to acknowledge when a matter can be better handled by someone else or it doesn’t concern you. If you receive an email that can be handled by someone else, delegate it!
Time-consuming emails are inevitable. Remove them from your mailbox until you have time to deal with them. Gmail allows you to snooze emails so they return to your inbox at the date and time you choose.
With Gmelius, you can take this a step further and build a smart, "If This - Then That," email sequence flows. They not only allow you to automate your outreach but also can sort and snooze incoming replies associated with your email campaigns.
Learn how to automate and manage your outreach using Gmelius sequences.
3. Respond to Repetitive Emails Using Templates
The more quickly you respond to an email, the faster it disappears from your inbox. But do you sometimes wonder why you keep writing the same emails over and over? You’re not alone, and there is a simple solution: use template responses. Gmail offers a feature called “canned responses.” This is limited to inserting plain text, however, Gmelius offers a powerful alternative called Smart Email Templates.
Use Gmelius templates to insert repetitive text into an email, automatically personalize the recipient's first name, adapt the subject line, add labels, and more. On top of that, Gmelius enables teams to share email templates with other team members to save time and keep messaging consistent.
To provide great customer service, you can also set triggers to automatically send instant replies, like confirmation emails or thank-you notes.
4. Use Filters and Share Gmail Labels
If you receive many emails from the same client or colleague, you can create a filter to label and file all the messages you receive from this person in a separate folder. Using filters helps keep your focus on important emails and leaves less urgent messages for another time.
This article explains how to properly use Gmail filters.
If you are working on a project that involves multiple team members, you can share Gmail labels with your team using Gmelius and collaborate on your clients' communications. This means you can leave cc’ing and forwarding in the past. In addition, shared Gmail labels can be applied in one click to sync specific conversations into your teammates' respective inboxes without cluttering your inboxes.
Follow this guide on how to use shared Gmail labels.
5. Delegate Emails to Your Teammates
Look at each email as an opportunity to eliminate a time-waster. Unless the information in a message applies directly to you, delegate that email to the right team member! Simply choose your colleague's name from a drop-down list to automatically share an email. One-click to share, two clicks to assign. Accountability is clear and everyone is on the same page. Use internal email notes to add context to email conversations or ping the right person with an @mention.
Learn how to delegate emails in one click using Gmelius.
You can even bring email delegation to the next level by automatically assigning specific emails to the right teammates with smart workflow automations.
6. Keep Emails Short
An email response should be appropriate to the subject it covers. If a question demands a one-sentence response, that is perfectly acceptable for email. While it may seem impolite to write a shorter reply, many people simply do not have time to read long emails. If you are determined to adopt Zero Inbox habits, keeping emails short will bring you one step closer.
Learn more here about how to create customized email templates using Gmelius.
Other Useful Tips For Better Email Management
In addition to the six steps above, here are a few more tips for better email management.
- Turn off email notifications. Notifications can be distracting. While it's important to stay in the loop, turning email notifications off can increase your productivity. Follow these steps to learn how to turn all Gmail notifications off.
- Check emails ONCE a day. As new emails pour in, it’s easy to feel obligated to check them. Instead, develop a schedule that works for you and limits opening emails to once or twice a day. This allows you to stay focused yet still respond in an appropriate time frame.
- Schedule emails to send in a batch. Batching and scheduling your emails allows certain recipients to receive the same email simultaneously—at a time convenient to you. With Gmelius, you can schedule emails for the time and date you choose.
- Convert emails into tasks. Gmelius offers Trello-like Kanban boards which let you convert emails into tasks. Gmelius boards integrate within your inbox, allowing you to visualize your project and client pipelines, and collaborate on them with your team.
By applying these six simple steps along with our useful tips, you’ll be able to make smart decisions, deliver concise responses, and manage your inbox in an efficient and effective manner.
Achieving Inbox Zero is possible when you reduce stress with these email management tips. Check out our features and integrations and learn how Gmelius is built to improve team communication and collaboration. Ready to get started? Sign up today!