InBox Zero

InBox Zero- Level 1 Achieved

For the better part of this year I have been moving toward a more paperless office, which I suppose is a less-paper office.

It started with my foray into Evernote and the purchase of my truly beautiful ScanSnap iX500. The goal was to reduce the great volume of paper files I need to transport wherever I go. As I have been scanning away I have also noticed that an added benefit is that those files become more findable and thus more usable.

This led me into David Allen’s Getting Things Done and the whole idea of “inbox zero” which I have since discovered is a phrase coined by Merlin Mann,a wizard of email organization.

The simple idea is to deal with all the email in your inbox every day, either automating it to the appropriate folder, deleting it or reading it. This avoids the embarrassing and sometimes costly problem of an important email getting buried and forgotten, but more importantly frees up head space so you don’t have to worry about any email being buried and forgotten.

I am quite confident saying that I have achieved this most basic level of InBox Zero. Yes, there are days when it doesn’t get emptied, but most days it is reduced to few enough that they all show up on one screen, above the fold. And, at least weekly, even those stubborn remaining few are dealt with.

So it’s time to press forward with InBox Zero Level 2. As I have defined it, and as I believe David Allen does as well, this is when the entire inbox of my life- all incoming information- is dealt with in such a way that there are no stacks, and more importantly, no stresses about forgetting something or not being able to find something when it is needed.

I still have a ways to go with Level 2. This will require all my remaining paper files to be dealt with and all the tasks I am responsible for to be recorded and prioritized or schedule. But at this stage it is simply a matter of time. I have the tools and the systems in place. I am identifying and processing important information faster than it is coming into my life. And I am gaining incrementally more physical and mental margin each day that I move forward in this process.

To review, the things that have helped me are Evernote, a good scanner with OCR, Getting Things Done methodology, The Secret Weapon which merges EN and GTD. Underlying all this is the life-planning methodology I share in my life-planning and goal setting book Release. The Release system or process has helped me get the big pieces of my life in place, a prerequisite to getting all the other things in their right place and deciding what exactly needs to get done!

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