Zero Inbox Without Hassle

3 min.

Summary

Often an ardent wish of most of the colleagues I know does not succeed. Many approaches lead to endless long to-do lists or parked mails in your inbox. With approaches like Getting-Things-Done (GTD) and other approaches, which are also applied to mail handling, additional software or other compromises are often involved. I have to say, I have my inboxes quite well under control and not the other way around. Some time ago I came across an approach by Luise Freese, which is very good but not completely suitable for my and probably many other colleagues. I need subfolders for my projects and don’t want to do several steps per mail. Therefore my suggestion is slightly modified and in my opinion simplified.

Objective of Zero Inbox

No mails in the inbox, grouping of tasks by context and the ability to find all mail immediately. Especially with the latter Outlook often plays tricks on me because the “Machine Learning” search results are not always correctly prioritized / sorted. Another reason why I still create folders in the project folder in Outlook.

Preperation

Create a _ReadMe and _ToDo folder below the inbox. The underscore is helpful, because then these folders are always on top, directly below the inbox. These folders can also be placed under “Favorites” (right-click, show in favorites).

Create categories in Outlook like @Phone @StandUpMeeting @Waiting.

Outlook-Categories

Next, expand the ribbon bar in Outlook:

Expand Ribbon Bar

Then we create so-called QuickSteps:

Set Up Quick Step

An example of one of the specified quicksteps:

Quick Step – Standup Meeting

In detail it is set as follows:

Quick Step StandUp Meeting Setting 1st Part.
Quick Step StandUp Meeting Setting 2nd Part.

The short text of the “standard reply mail” can be entered as follows:
“Hi, I would like to discuss / close this item in the next stand up meeting instead of having a further mail exchange.”

Another Quickstep can look like this:

Quick Step – To Do Next Week

with the “default mail text”: “Hello, Busy times these days. Just wanted to let you know that I already set a reminder for end of this week and will get back to you by then. If it is more urgent please chat with me on MS Teams.”

And then a Quickstep for completed tasks:

Quick Step – Closed Activities (Clear)

Finally, the following Quicksteps should be created in a modified form:

@Stand Up, @Wait, @Phone, News, Read, Do Today, Do Tomorrow, Do This Week, Do Next Week und Clear bzw. Close.

Have fun using it.

Published by

Marc Widmann

My name is Marc Widmann, husband, father of two sons, enthusiastic amateur photographer and lives in Hattersheim near Frankfurt. In my daily work I manage projects and programs in the field of information technology. I coach project managers and audit projects. I have many years of experience in consulting and IT outsourcing with project portfolio management tasks. I particularly enjoy working with international teams at Tata Consultancy Services. I volunteer my time at the Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement (GPM-IPMA) as an assessor in project management personal certification. I myself am also certified as IPMA Level A Certified Project Director (GPM) and IPMA Level B Certified Senior Project Manager (GPM). More about me.

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