We’ve all been there. Sunday evening, dreading the next morning, you go to bed early fearing the quantity of emails you’re going to find in your inbox when you get to work on Monday. But what if I could give you the key to master inbox zero and ensure you are always on top of your work?

Make Monday morning blues a thing that only happens in Mississippi

The steps below will give you the tools and outline the strategy needed to make Monday morning blues a thing that only happens in Mississippi.

1. The initial clean up

First of all, start unsubscribing from newsletters which you no longer wish to receive, or better still, use Unroll.Me which allows you to bundle emails into groups and then receive a round up email one per day or per week. This will greatly minimise the number of emails you get in your inbox and mean you can attack the important ones without having to sift through the junk.

Watch the video below to see how Unroll.Me works.

2. Deal with quick emails instantly

When an email comes in to your inbox, first identify if it can be dealt with there and then in a few seconds. If so, get it done and then file the email away in a relevant and logically named folder (more on email folders in step 5). If not, move on to the next step.

3. Prioritisation

If the task you need to do from the email will take longer than a few minutes, work out a prioritisation based on the following points.

  • How urgent is the task?
  • Who assigned it to you? Customer, Boss, Colleague etc.
  • Does it have a deadline?
  • Can it be delegated?

Once you have answered the points above, you can then move on to step 4 below.

4. Task management

There are many task management tools out there, but when you want to learn to master inbox zero, I find Wunderlist best for personal tasks, and Redbooth best for business tasks. Let’s focus on Redbooth for this purpose.

Once you have set up a Redbooth account, use the following points to understand the task management section of how to master inbox zero.

  • When an email comes in, you have read it and understood how it should be prioritised, set a task in Redbooth
  • Assign a due date and staff member
  • Add subtasks if needs be which can be ticked off as you complete them
  • In the notes field, write down some extra information to remind you of what needs to be done
  • Also in the notes field, add a link to the email thread. If you’re using Gmail for example, you can copy and paste the URL in to the notes field to make it easy to find. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the email copy in to the notes field.

Below is an example of setting a task on Redbooth.

Task management using Redbooth for mastering inbox zero


5. Filing away your emails

As briefly mentioned in step 2, when you have dealt with an email (either responded or assigned a task), you can then file it away in a logically labelled folder. Use the following points to help structure your folders.

  • Use parent folders with subfolders in each group
  • Make folders for every eventuality. Whether they be staff members, admin and accounts, sales or services you offer. Everything should have its own folder.
Mastering inbox zero mailbox
Check your mail

6. Go mobile

As you most likely have already, setting your email account on your mobile is a super efficient way to stay on top of things. If you’re waiting around for any reason, or you’re at home on the couch watching a bit of TV, have a quick glance at your emails, delete the crap, quickly message back the ones which take a few seconds, and leave the more time consuming ones until you’re back at your desktop.

7. Use a CRM like Contactually

A CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) is an incredible useful tool for managing your inbox, contacts, tasks and follow ups. There are a number of uses for CRMs like Contactually. Whether for sales or general communication, there are tons of useful functions which help you be more efficient with your messaging and master inbox zero.

One function I love on Contactually is ‘Buckets’. This allows you to sort all your contacts into specific buckets. Once assigned to a certain bucket, you can send your contacts personalised messages at scale, set tasks and follow up on preset dates. You can even write and schedule your messages to be sent in the future.

Watch the video below to see how Contactually works.

After a week or so of using this technique, you should find you are well on the way to mastering inbox zero. You’ll appreciate it so much when Monday morning swings around and you can dive straight into your proper work rather than catching up with all your emails for hours beforehand. Good luck!

If you use any other techniques to master inbox zero, let us know in the comments below.

For more tips on working more efficiently, see: Five Web Tools to Increase Productivity