Inbox Zero: Delete, delete, delete (or, “Fail faster”) (43 Folders)

Do you have a sloppy relationship with the messages in your life? Be honest. Do you tend to see every new email as a virtual hug that must be reciprocated? Do you keep emails in your inbox for weeks or months even though you know in your heart of hearts that you have no intention of ever responding to them? If so, it’s dragging you down if you ever hope to hit “zero” in this lifetime. Mentioned briefly yesterday, it bears repeating: delete, my friend. Delete, delete, delete.

The first and most workmanlike filter in your email processing scheme must involve very quickly deciding whether a given message can be deleted or archived immediately upon receipt. This, Grasshopper, is the dirtiest of dirty little secrets in the “Inbox Zero” fu book. Because once you can reduce the amount of hay in your particular stack, the needles start revealing themselves like shiny little diamonds. Kill junk, kill pseudo-junk, and then kill all the stuff you won’t ever respond to. Whatever’s left is yours to return. That’s where your actual, useful job lives.

Believe it or not, deleting fast and well is actually one of the most difficult skills to master, since it requires you to be straight with yourself starting from the moment a new message arrives. Is there an action here? Will you really respond to this email? Or, will you, more likely, just let it sit there for an hour or a day or a decade while you ruminate upon its ontological significance? Will you put it into some lame “holding” folder where notional Magick Things might transform it into something more interesting to you? Feh.
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