Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

Arrow-Tip #62 Maintaining Inbox Zero

I’ve talked a lot about attaining Inbox Zero in the past couple of months, but what are some of the biggest challenges to maintaining it? Vacation or the occasional work or personal crisis are two situations that can lead to temporary setbacks, but again those can be overcome with some of the same tactics used to attain Inbox Zero in the first place. But what about those every day emails that seem to stick in your Inbox either because you don’t know where to put them or you’re worried they will fall through the cracks if you move them? Read on to discover my Inbox Zero epiphany regarding these tricky messages.

OK, I admit it, I’ve been struggling with a couple of these little buggers myself for the past couple of weeks.  I’ve got one email with a phone number for someone I really need to talk with about a personal matter, but that I have very little information about beyond her first name and the aforementioned number.  Normally, I would say “don’t use your Inbox as a data repository – create a contact record.”  But, since I have so little information about this contact, I’m a little worried I won’t find her later.

Bugger email number two is an email from a friend who is on the board of a very worthy volunteer organization with information attached about an upcoming fundraising event.  My friend wasn’t really looking for me to get actively involved in his organization, but more to help spread the word to people I know who may have a vested interest in getting involved.  Normally, I would say “don’t use your Inbox as a task manager – create a task item.”  But, I’m not sure what my task is going to be for this item.

So what is the real problem here?  Is it that some part of me doesn’t fully trust my contact management and task management systems with these particular items (gasp!)?  Or, am I trapped in analysis paralysis?  Yes, I spent some time in vacation catch up mode after my Turkey trip and one of my clients is involved in a bit of a crisis that I’m trying to help them work through, but these are the times when it is most important to stick with systems and trust them even if that means a little adjustment.  After all, systems are what help us stay in proactive mode and avoid perpetual reactive mode which tends to be highly inefficient not to mention somewhat unsettling. 

So here is what I’m going to do: create a contact record with a call back date set for bugger email number one and create a task to brainstorm a little in a week or two for bugger email number two.  Then, I’m going to focus extra hard on executing my daily contact management and task management systems.  If I have to reset my call back date or task due date, that’s ok, but at least these items are in the system.  I feel better already.

And just like that, I’m back to Inbox Zero.  Still to come this week – how to posts for Arrow-Tip #61 Publishing KPI Metrics Using Microsoft Excel and in the mean time, happy hunting!

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on June 24, 2010 in the following categories: Add-ins, Arrow Tips, Contacts, Front Page, Huntress, Inbox, Inbox Zero, Tasks. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


You could also create a waiting folder to keep them in to keep your inbox empty and still be following the rules. I would recommend keeping a total on that folder so you don’t start to accumulate junk.
Thank you for your comment, Chad! I have a couple of folders that I use to store things that are not urgent, but that I can’t get to right away such as a “Nutshell Mail” folder for nutshell emails where I’ve checked my inboxes, but want to go through some of my saved twitter searches. Personally I’m a little leery of a general waiting folder though because I tend to forget things in there so I prefer to just go on and create a task or a followup call instead. But I believe you are correct that the “waiting folder” is a legal GTD strategy. Misty


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