Dr Perpetua Neo

How I Stay Tech Sane: Inbox Zero & An Organised Mind

Seth widened his eyes. “You have ZERO emails!?”

“Yes, across all three accounts!”, I replied. 

But once upon a time, I had about 6000 emails in my inbox. Never mind if Gmail puts them into different ‘boxes’ like Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. 

You know those pictures of the rooms that compete for Messiest Rooms? They look like Hoarders’ Hellholes. When I look at them, my heart constricts. I get a stinking headache. 

That was how my inbox used to feel 4 years ago. 

Until I sat down, created a system and decided, “Never again”. 

Never again, to that energy suck and headache. 

And here’s a sneak peek of what I teach my clients:—

1. Apps & Programs

With this, the trick is to be selective and find a system that works with you. Not pile on 1000.

  • Google Suite— Remember those days when you had to save files, rename, attach them. . and do that until you had Draft Final 10.docx, as you sent them between your collaborators? Never again. Everything from documents to presentations to spreadsheets, all updated in real time. 
  • Google Calendar— The best thing when you work across 6 continents. No more fumbling to calculate when the clocks are gonna go forward or backward, when you send the invite across. Also, schedule in everything personally good for you that you’re likely to say no to— the workout, pilates class, nap, laundry, journalling, etcetera. If it’s in the diary, you don’t say no. You honour it.
  • Book Like A Boss*— My favourite client booking system. It integrates straight into my website and calendar. 
  • SendFox*— Having fumbled with multiple other newsletter systems, SendFox is by far the most streamlined and intuitive. I’ve stopped procrastinating over sending newsletters since.
  • Notes— Syncs among my Apple hardware, so I can always type them on-the-go. I know what they say about personally writing things whilst journalling, but you can’t do an apple+f to search your archives!
  • Unroll.me— Beyond brilliant. You get to choose *on the same page* who you want to unsubscribe to, keep in your inbox, and the rest is sent into a daily rollup where you get one email of everyone’s newsletters/discounts/perks at a glance. And you know those email accounts that keep resubscribing you? This makes it so easy to happily keep unsubscribing. 

*I learnt about SendFox and Book Like A Boss via AppSumo. They curate intuitive and streamlined alternatives to clunky and expensive programs– no more recurring monthly costs!. AND you get deals at up to 90% off. Saving energy, time and money? Yes, please! (Here’s my referral code if you’d like USD$10 off)

2. The Practice

Just because you’ve enrolled in a fitness class doesn’t mean you’re gonna get fit magically if you don’t do the work. And, you’ll get fitter even faster if you do other things in the background to create a new environment that promotes that. The small tweaks that lead to the big wins?

  • Turn off all (unnecessary) notifications— FB? WhatsApp? Instagram? Twitter? I use them all. And more. And apart from my inner circle and VIP clients, everyone is muted. This means I wake up feeling peaceful when I check my phone. 
  • Protect your phonebookAgain, nobody apart from my inner circle and VIP clients goes in.
  • You don’t need to respond to everybodyEspecially if you’re always playing nice. And if this isn’t respect isn’t reciprocal.
  • Mute your phone— Unless I’m expecting an important call and am not near my phone, everything is muted. 
  • Human Message Filter— When I’m busier with particular projects, someone attends to my messages (even those on Instagram), telling me which ones I need to look at and reply to.
  • KIV Folder— Everything I don’t have to deal with right now, I archive into a KIV Folder. 
  • Stop subscribing to everything That freebie you keep just so you’ll work on it *one day*? If you’ve got years of such a habit, it’s probably never gonna happen. But I know, it’s tempting to just grab that extra bit of information. These days, I only subscribe to the ultimate pros. Everything else isn’t strategic or is likely just cheap knockoffs of each other, leading you to be lost in tactical hell. 
  • Organise— I have extremely organised folders in my devices and emails. Start mapping it out on a piece of paper— what are the main categories, then the sub-categories. Or go down into sub-sub-sub-sub if you so desire. Gmail also has the Labels feature, where you can teach it to label an email based on certain parameters the moment you receive it. Which brings us to.
  • Archive Archive Archive— Once an email has been read, I archive it into the particular folder. Same with my photos on my iPhone. Every evening, I delete everything unnecessary and then chunk them all into a folder for every season, so I’m not deleting with an amorphous mass. And I know how to retrieve them, and where from. 
  • Delete Delete Delete— Whatever’s not required, say goodbye. Forever. 
  • Templates— For my most common emails, I have templates (using Gmail’s Canned Response) so all I have to do is insert the name and tweak a little. 

3. Strong bedrocks

Writing the templates, organising the emails and building the systems sounds daunting. So break them down into each component. I spent 3 hours sorting, deleting and creating said system 4 years ago, but this has paid me back infinitely. 

Consider this in terms of time wasted worrying about these emails (and the messiness). Or fumbling about a very messy hard drive. Consider the time that flies by when you procrastinate retrieving a file or a photo, because of the chaos. And how pissed off you get with yourself. That’s needless energy incinerated.

3 hours seems a drop in the ocean now, don’t you think?

Keep maintaining the system— schedule in 10 minutes a week reorganising stray files or emails for anything that slips past.

And once you have a system in place, live. Life is what happens outside your tech and spreadsheets.

What will you implement? Hit reply and let me know. I read every response. And. . ready to be in-control of your head, time and energy? Book your free Chemistry Call here