Is Zero Inbox Achievable? With Mailbox App it is!

by Jess Samuels

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No matter how hard we try, at some point we all end up using our email inbox as a to do list.  Of course, the folly in this system is that our “list” keeps getting longer and longer every day, making it harder to manage.

Enter the Mailbox App.  A new mail management app from Dropbox that allows you to manage your email from your phone or tablet.

Mailbox works by linking your gmail accounts (up to 10), icloud, and google apps.  To manage your inbox you will swipe to label, snooze, archive or delete.

By setting up messages to “snooze” you are able to get them out of your inbox and have them come back to you at a time or date that you are better able to manage them.

With a bit of ongoing dedication, this quick organization method allows you to get zero inbox (and stay there!) by allowing you to quickly label messages or bring them back later.

While I wouldn’t personally use mailbox as a day to day option for responding to all of my emails (regular gmail is too rich with tools to not use), it is great for it’s primary function – getting you on top of your overwhelming inbox.

So give it a try and see if you can achieve everyone’s dream goal: zero inbox!

Currently available for ios and Android.

Is Zero Inbox Achievable? With Mailbox App it is!

Linkage Love: Email and Out of the Office

By Brenda Bethman

IMG_0647As you know from my last post, I have travel on the brain right now (even more so now, since I leave in 10 days). I’ve also been out of the office a fair amount during the last month or so due to illness and travel, so this article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. Author Melissa Korn notes that despite a clearly-stated out-of-office message, some folks nonetheless emailed repeatedly during the time she’d stated she would be out of the office:

“I was horrified to see at least four or five notes following up on emails that had only been sent a day or two earlier–when my out-of-office response was already switched on. The senders knew I was out, yet they still felt the need to send another note, asking why I didn’t respond. One went so far as to send a text message to my personal cellphone after receiving my automatic reply, convinced that her news was too important to wait. (It wasn’t.)”

I also noticed this when I was out of the office with bronchitis in late April/early May. Despite an out-of-office reply that basically said “I’m sick and will read your email when I feel human again,” many students emailed daily with their queries. This also happened during spring break, with one student going so far as to find my cell phone number and texting me (no, that did not go down well).

Of course, part of the reason folks repeatedly email is because they assume that “out of office” doesn’t actually mean anything as many folks (like Korn did) continue to check their email when on vacation or ill, as this article on CNBC points out (“How the Smartphone Killed the Three-Day Weekend“).

To get around this expectation, danah boyd developed what she calls an “email sabbatical” and more folks are declaring “email bankruptcy” upon their return.

As student affairs professionals, it’s easy for us to lose boundaries as Stacy Oliver pointed out last summer but time off (especially after the craziness of April and May) is essential. Even I, notorious for my email habits, turned off last summer and this past Memorial Day weekend. The challenge I’m now finding is getting others to recognize that I really do mean it when I say I’m out of the office. But I’m hopeful that it will take as I prepare for my summer travels.

What about you? How do you turn off? And get others to respect your boundaries when you do?


Linkage Love: Email and Out of the Office

On My Radar: A Few Tech-Related Items

By Anitra Cottledge

I’m still feeling fuzzy from the semester and its ending, and am just getting around to my usual routine of clicking around the intrawebz. A few technology-related items that caught my eye:

  • I’m Out of the Office. No, Really. I Am. – This article poses the question: “Is the out-of-office message meaningless?” Not to me. I don’t have a problem not checking my email when I’m away from the office. I used to have my email synced to my phone…for about two hours and then I just wanted people to pelt me with an endless stream of gummi bears.
  • #Hashtags: Facebook’s missing link to pop culture – So Facebook is missing out on cool points because it doesn’t have a hashtag mechanism? I suppose this is true. One part of me says, “What the big deal? I use hashtags on Facebook anyway, even if they aren’t live.” But then again, hashtags are useful on Twitter, particularly when you’re trying to follow a conversation. Then again, I don’t use Twitter in the same way that I use Facebook, so I’m not sure that I would want the same hashtag functionality on Facebook as I have on Twitter.
  • Tools for Displaying Tweets at Your Event – Some new and useful tools that could come in handy for those of us in Student Affairs, who tend to plan lots of programs and events, and may want fresh ideas about how to integrate technology into our programs.
  • Facebook Rape Campaign Ignites Twitter: Boycott Threats From #FBrape Get Advertisers’ Attention – When Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of WAM (Women, Action, & the Media), Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, and Soraya Chemaly, feminist writer and activist, write an open letter to Facebook asking that it take action on “pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about.”

What are you reading?

On My Radar: A Few Tech-Related Items

Getting Your Inbox to Zero (or Almost Zero): Yes You Can!

Spoiler alert: there is almost no possibility of anyone keeping an inbox at absolute zero for an extended period of time.

However, keeping your inbox neat and devoid of clutter is well withing your sights. Recently, I read a Chronicle article (shocking, I know) about the idealistic notion of keeping a zero-base inbox, and while I found valid points, I think that having a nearly zero inbox is absolutely attainable.

For those of you who haven’t met me personally, you may not know that I am a “judging” type – I constantly feel the need to keep order in all aspects of my life. And since I work in student affairs (and am a graduate student… and a Millennial) email strongly influences my everyday experience. So, what do insanely organized, Millennial student affairs grads do to their inbox? They wipe it clean. Every. Day.

Now, clearly I realize that many of you do not fall under those categories, but there are a few tips I would like to share for those of you, “who comfortably live with an inbox hundreds-of-messages deep, [and] who often don’t answer their messages,” (at least, that’s how Brett Foster of Wheaton College puts it).

1. Start organized. Stay organized.

  • Create folders for each of your areas or projects. You can even go as far as creating sub folders for those emails that are less important to remember or reference. Think of it in terms of organizing your book shelves or dresser drawers – you feel more relaxed when everything is in it’s place right? It’s the same thing with your inbox.

2. Take time each day to devote to emails.

  • I know we’re all incredibly busy individuals and work-life balance can be a precarious line we walk, but taking a set amount of time each day to only answer emails is quite helpful. For example, I get into work at 8:30 AM each morning. From 8:30 – 9:00 AM I clean out my inbox; anything information that I can scan and archive I get out of the way first. Once I’m through with that, I prioritize the rest and move from there. Maybe 8:30 AM isn’t good for you, but I bet you’ve got 30 minutes in your day somewhere that you spare.

3. Read. Respond. Archive.

  • Read it, respond to it, and get rid of it. If you already dealt with whatever issue the message presented, there is no reason for it to sit in your inbox. Clutter begets clutter. Cleanliness begets cleanliness.

4. Abide by the 48 hour rule.

  • Unless you’re on vacation, at a conference, or sick at home, you should be answering your emails in a timely fashion. If it truly warrants a response, that response should be drafted and sent within two days of the arrival date.

5. At the end of the day, keep no more than five emails awaiting reply or action.

  • Say what?! Yea. I said it. No more than five emails. It may seem like a lot, and I know there will be days where that is near impossible, but if you keep it clean, the emails won’t accumulate over time and turn into a heaping mound of agony.

Sure, there are exceptions to these rules. And maybe not everyone can function with such a structure. But for those of you who want to change, try it out. I bet you’ll find a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.

Getting Your Inbox to Zero (or Almost Zero): Yes You Can!

Open Thread: Do You Care About #inboxzero?

By Brenda Bethman

For this week’s open thread, I want to talk about email — specifically the phenomenon known as “#inboxzero.” As I’m sure you know, this is a very recommended technique for managing one’s email. The folks who preach #inboxzero tend to be fairly zealous about it. In fact, as far as I can tell, I should be a hot mess of unproductivity thanks to the horror show (currently holding steady at #inbox307 in my work account) that is my inbox. Also, it appears that leaving my email up and running most of the time is stressing me out big time.

Here’s the thing, though — I don’t care about my inbox. I realized a long time ago that I could either spend time managing my email or I could do the rest of my job. I can’t do both, so I just let the email go — and it works for me just fine. I also leave it running and check in and out most of the day. If I’m trying to write something, I might close it — but otherwise, if I’m on the computer, the email is going. And that works for me, too.

Finally, one other thing — like Leah McClellan (see link below), I also have multiple accounts used for different purposes. Currently I manage eleven addresses (work, main personal, this blog, etc., etc.). Kind of a lot, I admit — but again, it works for me.

To me, that’s the key — do what works for you. What about you? Are you a zealous #inboxzero type? Or a let-it-all-go type? Do you check your email constantly? Or just now and then? What works for you? How accounts do you have? Let us know in the comments!

And here are some links for further reading on both sides of the email debate:

“Manage Your Email by Not Managing It” by Leah McClellan

“Achieving Inbox Zero” by Ed Cabellon

“Email Is Like Stress in a Bottle” from Lifehacker

“Does Inbox Zero Help You Manage Your Emails?” from The Next Web

“Are You Leaving the Door Open?” by Natalie Houston

[Photo Credit: Flickr user Ramberg Media Images, Creative Commons license]

Open Thread: Do You Care About #inboxzero?