It’s been a month and I have a few things to say, change is not easy. During the first three days I found myself habitually looking for my old folders and letting my Inbox build up, afraid to move those emails to the necessary folders. I didn’t trust myself, I felt that if I processed all my emails and kept my Inbox empty that I would suffer from out of sight out of minditis and worry that I have missed something. It took me another 7 days to realize that I need to be serious at processing my Inbox and to at least act like I trust the system. I must admit I needed to take a leap of faith, I needed to risk getting it wrong before I could become aware of the magic of Inbox Zero.
By only moving emails to DO if they can be actioned within 2 minutes whilst everything else gets moved to DELETE when appropriate, DELEGATED after I have forwarded an email to someone else when it can be better answered by them but I need to keep tabs on their progress and DEFER when it will take longer than 2 minutes or needs more than one step to be completed, I began to see the light. I think it took another 11 days before I felt competent enough to trust myself and began to see and feel the real benefits. This confirmed that it does really take 21 days to develop a new habit.
The real test came on day 25 when I returned from 2 days out of the office and saw that my Inbox was full of lovely BOLD unread emails. You know, when you come back from an offsite training course and you hold your breath as you open your Inbox and watch as the list of unread emails swells in size. Even then I was tempted to work out of the Inbox but instead the new habit kicked in and I faithfully processed the Inbox to Zero. I then proceeded to my DO folder and begun to chunk through each one, the expectation that each email/task would take less than 2 minutes to execute empowered me as I completed the task effortlessly and quickly. Then I proceeded to process and schedule my DEFER folder which reduced the stress I felt of having multiple new emails that needed a lot of work. I was now on top of my game and felt that I had passed a good test. For now….