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Use OHIO to organize your emails instead

  Business person reading e-mails on smartphone and laptop
NicoElNino / Shutterstock

Email is neither dead nor stale. In fact, the number of emails is increasing by over 1

0 billion a year, and too many of them will end up in your inbox. So get a grip and do not let it overwhelm you.

If your inbox is a minimalist white desert and you quickly deal with occasional emails that dare to clean up the impeccable order, this probably is not for you. We have much more to read, which is more interesting for you. But if you have an Inbox with hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of emails, you need a way to get things under control. "Inbox Zero", which aims to keep your inbox empty, is in vogue – but we have a superior solution.

We will focus on a system called OHIO or "handle only once", but not in a way that many people misinterpret. OHIO is an information management principle, which simply means that you should handle information as little as necessary – ideally once. This is very useful for efficiency. But as with all good ideas, some people have pushed it to extremes and preached OHIO as a golden rule that must be taken literally. This is both unnecessary and counterproductive, especially when dealing with emails.

What does "OHIO" mean

"Treat once" does not mean you should read an e-mail once and never reread it – that does not make sense. Sometimes you need to read an email several times to understand it, especially if the person sending it does not understand the brevity. Also, OHIO does not mean that you should never see the content of the email once it has left the Inbox. It also makes no sense because you are forced to respond to any email immediately, without worrying about your current priorities or responsibilities.

What is meant by "handle only once" is Handle an e-mail only once in your Inbox . After understanding the email, you should handle it – "handle it" and then either delete or archive it. The information in the email may appear more than once as part of a task list or to prepare for a meeting. However, the email should never appear in your Inbox. You only treat it once.

Why is OHIO useful?

OHIO is pretty easy to understand, but why do we recommend it? What's the benefit of working with an email in your inbox just once? Well, the answer is simple: your inbox is not an archive, a filing cabinet, a file cabinet, or a dump. It's an inbox!

If you have hundreds or thousands of emails in your inbox, they'll bury you quickly – and out of sight is the mind. It's much harder to find specific emails as your email client slows down (even if you're accessing your emails through a browser like Gmail) and the space is full (as with the use of Outlook or Outlook) Apple Mail is a particular problem) apps in your phone).

Bottom line: There's no point in keeping all your emails in your inbox, and there are many good reasons not to. "Handle Once Only" is a system that prompts you to do something with an e-mail once you have read it – to process it – and whether you ultimately archive the e-mail or the e-mail. Delete mail, she won.

What does "handle" exactly mean?

"Handle" means that when you understand the email, you do one or more of the following:

  • Reply to email.
  • Forward e-mail.
  • Organize a meeting for the email.
  • Turn the email into a to-do list.
  • No action (if none of the four options above are required) [19659021] After doing everything you need to do with the email, delete the email or archive it. You will not leave the email in your inbox as soon as you edit it.

    You do not have time to edit an email now? That's fine – you're not tracking Inbox Zero, and an email in your inbox is not a failure, just a job you have not done yet. Make sure that you only process the e-mail if you have a minute.

    OK, that makes sense. How do I implement OHIO?

    The easiest way to implement OHIO is to use a simple flowchart.

     A Simple Flowchart

    For each e-mail you have in your Inbox, edit it and then delete or archive the e-mail. That's it.

    If that seems strangely easy, it is because it is so. OHIO as Principle is simple, and the implementation should also be simple. The goal is to help you get your inbox under control by deleting it with a simple decision-making process. When you view an email, you reply to it, forward it, set up a meeting, make it a to-do list item, or do nothing if none of these options are required. You then delete the e-mail if you do not need to keep and archive it. Rinse and repeat the process with the next e-mail until your Inbox is empty.

    If this sounds suspiciously like another way to achieve "Inbox Zero," then do not worry, that's not the case. Or at least not the way people normally think of Inbox Zero. Yes, an empty inbox has some benefits (and satisfaction), but that's not the end goal. OHIO helps you get to the actual point of the Inbox Zero philosophy, meaning you only spend the time you need to get your inbox and are not a stressor for you. [19659004] It may take days or weeks for your inbox to be flushed with OHIO. So do not lose heart. Any e-mail you OHIO is a victory! And as long as you're familiar with the mail you have in your inbox, you're fine. OHIO is a process, not a goal. Here are some tips to help you succeed.

    • Begin to deal with today's email. If you stop working in the evening, you should not have today's emails in your inbox.
    • Take some time every Friday (or whatever your last day of work week is) to work through all the emails you've just received last week.
    • Set the Reading Range options in Outlook as you like, or enable the hidden preview window in Gmail.
    • If you're in Gmail, there's an Archive button and a Delete button. Use it!
    • If you're in Outlook, you can quickly set up an article to mark and archive it as read.
    • Use your smartphone to process e-mails when you're in a store, sitting in a train, in a Uber or Lyft, or when you have time during a working day.

    Above all, move on! The e-mail will be forwarded, but if you can do everything right with OHIO, it will be much easier to keep track of things in the future.

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