TASK: Get ready for inbox zero! (part one of two)

think productive

Your inbox is not your to-do list. I cannot emphasise this enough.

It is nothing more than a holding pen for when new inputs land.

We need to create new holding pens for things that need doing, things that are happening and things that can be ignored.

When an email comes in, either deal with it immediately (if it takes less than 2 minutes) or moves it out of your inbox into one of these folders.


Set up three processing folders in your inbox:

  • @Action – for email you receive where you know a reply or other email action is needed and where the action will take longer than two minutes
  • @Read – for anything that you want to scan your eyeballs over at a later stage rather than read as soon as it lands in your inbox
  • @Waiting – for emails where you’re waiting on someone else to do something and where you are committed to seeing a successful conclusion

Use an ‘@’ symbol before each word to make sure that these are at the very top of your inbox folder structure (e.g. ‘@Action’). (Optional)


Miniature Circus Exhibit at Big EDepending on what you already have set up as your reference folder structure, you might want to make some changes:

  • Get rid of any subfolders.
  • Reduce the number of reference folders you have so that they fit onto one screen.
  • Now you’re ready to deal with new emails that come arrive

We’ll deal with clearing the backlog of old emails in the next task, next Thursday!

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