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Doc APProvED: One Step Closer to Email Nirvana

Mohseni, Alex, MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000530444.14088.61
Doc APProvED

Dr. Mohseniis an emergency physician in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. He is the founder ofwww.CMElog.organd the editor of his own blog, http://CreativeHealthLabs.com. Follow him on Twitter @amohseni, and read his past columns athttp://bit.ly/EMN-DocAPProvED.

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Inbox Zero is the state of nirvana your brain achieves when it no longer spends a single moment worrying about and cycling through endless emails. The Inbox Zero concept was developed by Merlin Mann, the founder and writer for the website 43 Folders, a compendium of writings on creativity, productivity, and life hacking.

Mr. Mann explained that users can make five possible responses to any email: delete, delegate, defer, do, and respond. These five actions are quite different from what most people do, which is to re-read an email 10 more times over the course of several days and then promptly ignore it. Thankfully, this behavior has no name (yet), but it engenders much shame and angst.

Two of Mr. Mann's email actions, delegate and defer, are not managed well with normal email functions. How do you follow up if you forward an email to a colleague to delegate a task? You leave it in your inbox and hope to remember to review it. (Ugh!) If you defer an email for review later, you are back to endless re-reading of the same email list.

Start using followupthen to extricate yourself from this morass. (https://www.followupthen.com/.) Every time you send an email that you want to follow up, copy followupthen on the email (BCC), and it will send the email back to you at a designated time for follow-up.

To follow up on an email in two days, for example, I'll bcc “2days@followupthen.com.” If I want to follow up in three weeks, I'll bcc “3weeks@followupthen.com.” Followupthen is an indispensable tool that offers many additional features to help you reach Inbox Zero quickly and painlessly.

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