For as much as I read about productivity and “tactics,” I’m not all that organized, in my opinion. I am forced to keep track of a lot of threads in my projects by necessity of having too much on my plate, so I make use of notebooks and applications to sort, categorize, and remind myself of things. This includes my email inboxes – if something is unread, it means I haven’t tended to it yet and need to circle back.
From time to time I hack away at my unread messages, but items will sit there for long stretches during peak deadline times.
Last week, however, I hit inbox zero for my main account for the first time in a loooooong time.
I honestly don’t remember the last time I hit zero messages in my inbox. It’s been a long slow process of setting up filters on messages to get rid of promotions cluttering my inbox (which I started setting up in January). I was tired of having to constantly decide whether I wanted to open promotional messages or auto-delete. I didn’t want to block or unsubscribe from them all since I still used the promotions on occasion, but the constant, daily deluge of 30+ messages was draining.
I don’t really subscribe to the inbox zero system per se, but when I finally cleared the last message kicking around, I stared at my empty inbox in confusion. It was weird to see. And I feel a slight motivation to keep on top of clearing emails. When a number pops up in the tab, an itching anxiety kicks in to get rid of it as soon as possible.
I feel odd celebrating something like this. I know rationally that clearing emails isn’t really a marker of productivity. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to celebrate those times when you feel a modicum of control over your life and work (even if it’s an illusion set up by my capitalist overlords… /s).
Knowledge workers, unite!