Inbox Zero. The seemingly ideal milestone so many long for while others dismiss as unattainable, overrated or a sign that business is down.
I believe it’s important, and it’s one of the many things I love about being a self-employed entrepreneur working strictly on behalf of my clients.
I talk to friends and former colleagues who face every day packed with back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings and literally hundreds of legitimate emails. I was one of those people, and I don’t miss it. At all.
Don’t get me wrong, some people thrive on this level of activity and may not perform well without it. Some even take pride in it. Especially with so many people working remotely, a calendar full of video conferences and an overstuffed inbox can help people cope with the lack of in-person interaction and justify the fact they haven’t worn a full work outfit in months (you know what I mean).
I certainly understand that, I personally found it limited my ability to engage deeply in the project or initiative(s) at hand. I was spread WAY too thin, bouncing from task to task leaving problems unsolved and loose ends untied. It left me uncomfortable, unsatisfied and feeling like I never fully achieved my goals.
I’ve been working remotely for over seven years and I’ve always loved it. Perhaps my personality type is well suited for it. But since I’ve started SecureBI I find I achieve Inbox Zero WAY more frequently and I have learned the benefits and positive impact that results from it.
I have intentionally limited the number of clients I will work with at any one point in time. This allows me to focus deeply on a small number of engagements with intense focus. I get the opportunity to think extensively on matters and do work that solves real problems and produces real results. I get to work on strategy in addition to tactics (more on that in another post). I find that when you do that and the trust between you and your counterpart is strong, there is little need for dozens of meetings and hundreds of emails every day.
This may sound like a business cliche, but it allows me to get work finished faster and better and end each day more satisfied with what I have achieved. My clients appreciate that, and so does my family.
There are plenty of stresses involved with working alone for yourself on behalf of clients who depend on you, but reaching Inbox Zero is one of the few things I have experienced in the wild world of entrepreneurship that actually reduces stress.
It’s not always possible, but for those of you who feel like you’re treading water every day and never seem to get closer to your goals, try declining a few more meeting invitations (even when you’re NOT double-booked). Block off time to close your email application and just get work done. Will the world come to a screeching halt while you’re offline? Probably not. Will you feel more satisfied and accomplished that day? Probably. And you may even be surprised how many of those issues that come through your inbox are resolved before you open it back up and how quickly you are able to reach Inbox Zero afterwards.