Clearing Pile of Email after business trip

Continuing my last post about handling email on business trips, let's continue our discussion - what to do when you've come back from a business trip, you've followed my tips in my last article and now you've got around a 100 emails that need your undivided attention. How to get them to ZERO?
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Here's how I suggest clearing your backlog of emails to zero. In three easy steps:

1. Move all of your email backlog to a temporary folder "backlog"

By doing this you make sure you have both your inbox empty and your "reply" folder empty and that you can keep dealing with email like you're used to. I do it the same way (link to my video)

2. Deal with the backlog in chunks of time of max 1 hour (or 2 Pomodoros :-)

Let's say you've got your to-do list for today and you're getting your stuff done and in the meantime get 1 hour of your time to focus on getting the backlog cleared up. After one hour get back to your tasks even if the backlog isn't clear just yet.

3. Keep on scheduling this hour throughout the week until the backlog is clear

Some days you'll have 2 hours in a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, but remember to keep a time gap between them. Don't work on your backlog for more than one hour. After 1 hour reward yourself with a cool and exciting task you need to get done for today and then get back to your backlog for another hour.

It's not easy, but you'll build good habits.

After my last business trip, it took me a whole week to get my email backlog to Zero but it was a great ride. It was hard not to stay in my email backlog for longer than 1 hour, but I forced myself to switch to something different, to make sure I'm not spending my full day in email only and I'm getting some meaningful stuff done.

Hope it helps you, too. How do you get your email to zero?
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Monday, July 12, 2010 (business,email,productivity)