How To Become an Email Ninja (Michael Reynolds session)

So, the Slaughter Development class on email was incredibly helpful. Then, summer happened. And, my life started to unravel.

Michael Reynolds (who, btw, is a fellow Ball State/Botswin alumni) has adapted Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero program and just busted me for having over 1000 messages. I’m attending this session with almost 900 unread messages in my inbox. Wish me luck.

Email is just a medium—it’s a communication tool that you should be controlling. Concert each email to an action, then process to zero. He assures me he’ll be teaching that today. The question is if I can learn it.

Working in Contexts

Writing, Process, Running Errands, On the Phone, In Meetings

Multi-tasking is a myth. (Side note: Only men say this. They’ve clearly never talked on the phone, nursed a baby and cooked dinner at exactly the same time.)

Stop treating email like instant messaging. Keep your email closed until you are acting on it. (Okay, so I got this one out of Robby’s session earlier this year. I guess I got a D, not a total fail.)

How to Act on Email

Delete (or archive)

Will you ever Really do anything about it?
If not, delete it—don’t feel bad about being realistic. Any modern email system can handle a large archive of email, if you need a safety net. (Use search to recover archived email.)


Is it more efficient for someone else to deal with it? (CC yourself and place a copy in “Waiting For” folder)


Can you respond in less than 2 minutes? Then, respond & delete or archive.


Will this take longer than 2 minutes to deal with?
1. Place it in an “Action Required” folder to address later.
2. Add it to your to-do list, then delete or archive.


Can you act on this message in 2 minutes or less (outside of email)? Then, do it & delete or archive the message.

Turn off email on your phone so you only get new messages when you have time set aside to deal with it. (Done! Another win from Robby Slaughter!)
Keep your email program in offline mode while working with folders—you are in control without new messages interrupting your process.

Migration to Inbox Zero

  1. Create your 3 folders & organize all your other folders into them.
  2. Delete other folders.
  3. Set aside a block of time to process the Inbox.