Achieving Inbox 0 with my Mac and Omnifocus for Mac/iPad/iPhone a Getting Things Done process for Mail.app

You know I even keep a list of blog subjects and have a weekly reminder to post? Do I do a weekly blog post? No. Suppose I should be glad of being so busy. Anyway - "Inbox 0" a noble aim and one that in my own way, I achieve every day. This is how I do it, you may want to change things to fit. It works very well with Dave Allen's GTD process and perfectly fits the sweep process of bin it, file it, do it if it takes less than 2 minutes or put it in your task inbox.

Requirements:

  • A Mac using Mail.app with a "Smartfolder" set up to filter in all unread mail.
  • Omnifocus for Mac
  • Omnifocus for iPad
  • Omnifocus for iPhone
Process from my Mac.
I only ever look at my Smart Mailbox, not my actual inbox. When that Smart Mailbox says (0) next to it, I'm at Inbox Zero. So I'm looking at the folder, an email comes in, or, maybe I've been working on something else with Mail.app hidden, I come back in and there's 10 things in the box, I do one of these things.
  • Is it Spam? Delete it
  • Is it a notification I don't need now I've read it? Delete it.
  • Is it a notification I need to keep even though I've read it? (receipts, booking confirmations etc.) move onto the next email, now the email is "read" it won;t appear in the Smart Mailbox anymore, ergo it's dropped straight into "filed" without me needing to do anything.
  • Do I need to do something with the email that takes less than 120 seconds - do it now, sub decision, do I need to keep this email still? If so, move onto the next email, this one will be marked as "read" and drop out of the Smart Folder. If I don;t need to keep it, I hit delete immediately after actioning.
  • Do I need to do something with the email and it will take more than 120 seconds? I Highlight some text in the email that will remind me what it is, hit my shortcut Cmd-Shift-comma, Omnifocus pops up ready populated, I just hit enter. The text & a link to the email is dropped in my Getting Things Done bucket.
Process from my iPad / iPhone
You Can't have smart mailboxes on either iPhones or iPads, shame. Omnifocus also isn;t anywhere near as well integrated (Apple's fault, not Omni) So instead I do this.
  • Is it Spam? Delete it
  • Is it a notification I don't need now I've read it? Delete it.
  • Is it a notification I need to keep even though I've read it? (receipts, booking confirmations etc.) move onto the next email, now the email is "read" it won't appear in the Smart Mailbox on my Mac anymore, ergo it's dropped straight into "filed" without me needing to do anything.
  • Do I need to do something with the email that takes less than 120 seconds - do it now, sub decision, do I need to keep this email still? If so, move onto the next email, this one will be marked as "read" and drop out of the Smart Folder (on my Mac). If I don't need to keep it, I hit delete immediately after actioning.
  • Do I need to do something with the email and it will take more than 120 seconds? I Highlight some text in the email that will remind me what it is, hit "copy", switch over to Omnifocus for phone/pad, hit new, paste the text right in and hit "go". The text ┬áis dropped in my Getting Things Done bucket. This isn;t as good as you no longer have a direct link to the email itself, but it's better than nothing at all and as long as you copy the right text, you'll know what it's about.
A few supporting actions that help this go well.
  • Every week I have a repeating task in Omnifocus to quickly run through the last few days of emails in my actual inbox, not the Smart Mailbox. I use this to delete any emails that I don't need that may have dropped through the net.
  • Every time I get an email that's non specific, say a newsletter etc. I think if I need to keep receiving it, if not I hit unsubscribe in an attempt to keep my email inbox to a minimum.
  • The search function in Mail.App - is FANTASTIC. No really it is. You don't need to obsessively categorise things, there's no need. When you can type, for example, from:Miles into the search box and you get every email from Miles, or subject:dinner - why go to all that effort to manually categorise anything?
So. It works well for me - how do you do things? Any ideas on how to improve things? Look forward to your thoughts.