How to Think Better: inbox zero

This is Part 2 of a post about inbox zero. Be sure to check out Part 1: Why inbox zero is the wrong measuring stick

I typically get pushback at this point about the argument against inbox zero. The “Yeah, but…” begins.

  • Yeah, but I can’t ignore the rest of my emails.
  • Yeah, but I don’t want my inbox clogged with a bunch of unfiled emails.
  • Yeah, but I also have to respond to emails from clients.

I’m not saying your other emails are unimportant. Or suggesting you’ll only address the 4 operations-related emails and ignore the rest.

Attention, time, and energy

But I am saying those 4 emails are essential—aka: your top priority. They get your full attention, adequate time, and best energy.

When you handle those 4 emails, you can feel good about aligning your attention, time, and energy with what’s most important. In other words, aligning with your essential-now.

Your measuring stick is no longer inbox zero. Instead, it’s: Did I deal with emails related to my essential-now?

If the answer is yes, mission accomplished. You didn’t just put out fires and do busywork filing away unimportant emails. You focused on your priority, which is golden in moving forward your larger goals.

If the answer is no, try again tomorrow. Recommit to your essential-now. Give your priority the best you have in terms of your attention, time, and energy.

Your essential-now over time

Your essential-now will change over time. Not daily or weekly. Perhaps not even monthly.

But it’s reasonable to change your essential-now quarterly or at least yearly as the needs of your business—and life—change.

Perhaps one quarter your essential-now is operations in your business. The next six months might be focused on client acquisition. The next quarter on reviewing and revamping your marketing.

When it comes to life, perhaps you declare the coming 365 days as The Year of Less is More. Simplifying is your essential-now, and the focus and filter for how you spend your attention, time, and energy.

Or maybe you divide the year into quarters and your essential-now looks like this:

  • 1st Quarter: Decluttering
  • 2nd Quarter: More Movement
  • 3rd Quarter: Better Relationships
  • 4th Quarter: Financial Health

You get the idea. The big takeaway is not everything can be equally important—and if you have five priorities, you have none.

Deciding on and declaring your essential-now is a brave thing to do. Even more daring is to say “yes” to your priority with your attention, time, and energy while saying “no” to everything else.

What will you ignore so you can focus on your essential-now?