How To Keep Your Inbox At Zero


By Abbey Kyhl Founder & Chief Strategiest

I’m just here to take care of the people God has assigned to me. Blessed with what I need. Working hard for what I want.

Email is one of hardest things to stay on top of, and yet it is also one of the most important ones! How often do you miss out on important things because they get lost in your email inbox, or your updates box, or your promotions box?

So how can we do it? Well today, I wanted to share with you how I simplified my inbox and made it so that I can get through it quickly each day. In the 24-Hour Work Week Course, we talk about an important step called “Review And Preview” that I do each week and how I organize my entire business for the week. An important part of that is getting on top of my email inbox, which is what we are going to talk about specifically today.

I came across this tip from Gina Trapani with Life Hacker. She talks about how she used to have dozens of folders that she used to manage her email account. She now only has three. She calls them the Trusted Trio. They are follow up, archive, and hold. Here is what she said about each folder.

  • THE FOLLOW UP FOLDER includes messages that represent tasks you must complete; whether that’s a response that will take more than two minutes (anything less than that, just respond on the spot!) or some sort of an action. All these messages represent an item on your to do list. To make sure you actually follow up on the messages in this folder, you must review it regularly. Alternately, when you add a message to this folder, make sure you also add it to your to-do list. I add it to my Monday to do list (Monday is the task management software that we use as a team, but you could also do this in Trello or Asana).
  • THE ARCHIVE FOLDER is your long-term email reference library. Place all the messages that contain information you may want to retrieve at some point in the long term future in Archive. Any completed threads, completed requests, memo’s you’ve read, questions you had answered, and completed project email goes into Archive. Basically, whenever an email is “closed” but you may find it useful at some point in the future place it in Archive. Dumping everything directly into Archive may seem scary to dedicated filers. It was to me at first. However, the archive is your “pile” versus “file;” Just remember it’s completely searchable, and any message you place there will be retrievable using a well-crafted query.
  • THE HOLD FOLDER is a temporary holding pen for important messages you’ll need quick access to within the next few days. If you’re waiting on someone else to get back to you with crucial information, or you’re maintaining a thread about a time-sensitive topic, keep it in the Hold folder. Examples of messages that would go in Hold are: a FedEx confirmation number for a delivery that’s on its way, or a message from a client that says they will get back to you by the end of the week. This folder should be reviewed on a regular basis and cleared out as the message contents are no longer needed (ie, that FedEx got delivered or your that client gets back to you.)

I have to admit, at first I was TERRIFIED to do this! I am totally a folders girl so the thought of getting rid of all of those just seemed overwhelming. But I decided to give it a shot and now I am completely in love with the outcome. The overall message inspired by Gina Trapani is merely to SIMPLIFY.

How can you modify the “three folder,” model?

I ended up creating 1-2 sub-folders for certain projects in each folder for things I do actually need to have grouped together. For example, I need to review some work from a group of my coaching students, so instead of taking the time to go back and review it, I just put it all in its own folder. But overall I stuck with Gina’s system. It is so great to be able to quickly get through my emails each day and not have to stare at email after email in my inbox. By switching over to this method, I have been able to cut SO much time out of my day that I was dedicating to email! I can’t recommend this tip enough!

You can read Gina’s full article HERE as she goes more in-depth with how she implemented the Trusted Trio into her email routine. 

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