If “Inbox Zero” sounds good in theory but you are too busy to spend time learning a full-on system for managing your email, here is a simple way to get your email under control.
You don’t need to read books, watch a video, buy anything, download anything, or get a fancy email app. All you have to do is start using something that is already built into your email.
One Simple Rule: Star/flag a message if you have to do something with it.
Seriously, that’s it. Go through your inbox, select every message that represents something you have to do, and add a star or flag to them, depending on your email provider. (Gmail uses stars, while Outlook and Mail.app call them flags).
To add a star/flag, you can click on the icon in the message list or while viewing the message, or you can just use a keyboard shortcut:
- Gmail: S1
- Outlook and Outlook.com: INSERT
- Mail.app: Cmd+Shift+L
When you are done, you can archive everything left in your inbox if you want to. But even if you leave everything in your inbox, you can improve your productivity.
Editor-in-Chief, Lawyerist Media, LLC