3. Getting to an empty inbox – the key is FIFO

techtipsfortradeunionistsEveryone struggles to cope with massive numbers of emails — but there are tried and proven ways to manage this and one of the oldies-but-goodies remains FIFO.

That stands for First In, First Out.

Or in Plain English — answer the oldest messages first.

This is not always easy.

In many email clients, like Gmail, you’re shown the newest messages first and you’ll likely try to answer them as they come in.

But this is the worst way to cope with an inbox, as it turns email into a live chat rather than what it was designed to be — asynchronous communication.

That’s a fancy way of saying: emails should be answered when you have the time to answer them, and not the way you answer the phone — when it rings.

As Gmail is very bad at sorting your emails in reverse chronological order, I’m going to suggest something different later in this series.

But even in Gmail, you can get to the oldest messages and answer them first.

You can even set yourself goals — such as having no messages in your inbox older than one week, or older than 48 hours.

Eventually, you may get down to 24 hours, which is my personal goal.

That means if you write to me, I’ll try to get an answer to you within 24 hours — but others who got here first will get answered first.