A Few “How-To’s” for Achieving Inbox Zero

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As a church leader in Canada, your mission is too important for you to consider your time as merely a commodity to be managed. Your time must be viewed as a powerful weapon to be wielded.

emailBut in very practical terms, many leaders continue to have the sharp edge of this weapon dulled by the inability to stay on top of email.

Here’s a plan I’ve followed for years for achieving “inbox zero”. It’s a process based on a triage system I follow with ruthless discipline:

  • Delete
  • Move
  • Respond

During the day I rarely respond to emails as they arrive. Instead, I set aside the final 30 to 40 minutes in the office every day where I push everything aside and apply “delete, move, respond” to each of the 100 or so emails which have accumulated in my inbox that day

1. Delete
The majority of emails require no action or response. A simple glance will glean the information that’s pertinent. These emails are immediately deleted. Total time: about 5 – 10 minutes.

2. Move
I find that about 1/3 of emails will require some sort of acknowledgement or follow up within 24 hours. Using Outlook, I physically drag these emails out of my inbox and place them in a strategic slot in my calendar the following day. Total time: about 10 minutes.

3. Respond
The end of the day will see me then left with a handful of emails that call for a timely response. Total time: about 15 minutes.

When I arrive in the office the following morning, I’m immediately on mission, on the offensive, not endlessly reacting to the agenda of others.

If you’ve been losing ground in the email wars, try giving this a shot and reclaim your time as an offensive tool in your leadership arsenal. Your mission is too important for your time to be merely a commodity to be managed.

How do you achieve inbox zero?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Excellent advice Scott! I have followed a similar discipline for years. One other thing I do is turn off auto receive. There is nothing more distracting to me than a new mail notification popping up every minute while I am trying to work. I want to be in control of when I get email.

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