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The Teaching Space Podcast

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Oct 5, 2018

Episode 32 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores the steps to take in order achieve Inbox Zero. 

Here are the show notes for this episode.


My blog post about achieving inbox zero is one of my most popular. It’s a long post though, so for those of you who prefer to consume my short podcasts, here you go.

What is Inbox Zero?

  • Not just having an empty inbox. You can do that (delete all/declare email bankruptcy) but that’s faking it.
  • It’s an email management process which leads to your inbox being empty most of the time.
  • If you have a trusted process to deal with your emails, you stop worrying about them. You stop being controlled by them. You free up space in your brain to focus on other things.

The Problem With Email

  • It’s not always the best communication method.
  • It creates an urge to respond.
  • It generates more emails.
  • It’s not a task manager.
  • It’s always there.

The Big Clean Up

  • First step, clean up your inbox.
  • Set up ARCHIVE/S sub-folder under your inbox (just one).
  • Delete emails that are no longer needed.
  • Drag emails into ARCHIVE/S if you might need to refer back to them later.
  • It will leave you with emails requiring action in your inbox.

Make a List

Your email inbox must not be your task manager because:

  • It’s impossible to prioritise.
  • Anyone can add to it.
  • You have to open the email to work out the required action.
  • You end up with an inefficient email inbox AND an inefficient task manager.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Chose your list making method. 
  • Keep it simple.
  • Start with pen and paper (perhaps a yellow notepad so it’s immediately visible on your desk) then consider an app if it works for you.
  • I use Asana but I don’t recommend you start with it as you’d need to learn it. The idea behind this process is to implement it quickly to see results.
  • Tasks in your email inbox which require action go on your list.
  • Email Management Workflow

    Set up two more sub-folders: REPLY and WAITING.

    • REPLY: emails that will take longer than two minutes to deal with go in this folder. For example, an email asking you for your opinion on something (this would require thought).
    • WAITING: emails where you are waiting for a response, or you want to process later, go in this folder. For example, you have delegated a task and you are waiting for an update.

    Remember: ARCHIVE is for emails that you don't need now but you might like to refer back to at a later date, go to this folder.

    Use the two-minute rule: 

    • If you receive an email that takes less than two minutes to deal with, deal with it straight away.
    • The idea with the two-minute rule is that it would take almost two minutes to process that email, so deal with it now.

    Schedule email time.


    1. Set up ARCHIVE/S sub-folder.
    2. Delete emails.
    3. Send emails to ARCHIVE/S.
    4. Set up REPLY and WAITING sub-folders.
    5. Add tasks in emails to your to-do list.
    6. File remaining emails in REPLY and WAITING.
    7. Apply the two-minute rule.
    8. Schedule email time.

    Wrap Up

    If you enjoyed the episode, then please consider leaving a positive review on iTunes. This helps more teachers and trainers find the podcast when they search. Thank you.