Living the “Inbox Zero” Way

A few weeks ago I read a series of articles titled “Inbox Zero – Action Based Email” on the 43Folders web site. I had been looking for a better way to keep up with all the things that I needed to do and had happened upon the Todo application for iPhone as discussed in a previous post. That led me to the online task server named ToodleDo which I started using heavily after doing a “brain dump” of all the things running around in my head that I needed to do.

For the lasst two weeks I’ve been able to successfully maintain 0 messages in the Inbox folders of my 3 main email accounts. I’m definitely not “there” yet with the whole Getting Things Done method of managing what you need to do, but I do feel like this is an important baby step.

One of the features of ToodleDo that I’ve really taken advantage of is the ability to create a special email address that will automatically create a task in your list when you send an email to it. There is a certain syntax for the subject line that lets you set certain parameters on the task automatically. Anything in the body of the email automatically gets put in the notes section for the new task. Below is an example:

This is my super important task name !!! #next Monday *ProjectA @work

The first part of that obviously is the task name. The three !’s give it a priority of 3 (Highest). #next Monday sets the due date. *Project A identifies which of your projects you want to associate this with. Finally the @work identifies the context where this task should be completed.

So now when I read an email, I do one of three things:

  1. Read it, answer it right then if I can do so in 60 seconds or less and archive it
  2. Read it and delete it if it requires no action from me
  3. Read it, forward it to my ToodleDo email address and archive it if it’s something I need to address in the future.

This eliminates the problem with tasks falling “below the fold” in your Inbox and languishing there until months from now when you decide to clean up your Inbox. It also dovetails with the idea of keeping all your tasks in one place (ToodleDo for me) so that there is less of a chance that something gets lost.

Anyone else using something similar to this? Any tips on further refining this method to be more productive?

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