I recently came across a short article on the Getting Things Done web site in which David Allen discusses why it is easier to maintain an empty inbox than a full one. Below is the opening of the article:
“I assert that it’s actually less effort to maintain your email inbox at zero than to maintain it at 300 or 3,000. Will it take effort? Of course. But there is gold to be mined there with a trusted practice that will have ripple effects across your workflow and motivation.
“At a certain point, you will clean up your email. For some people twenty is too many. And for some, it’s five thousand. Different standards for ‘stuff.’
“These standards are very powerful unconscious drivers of your behavior and permitted experience. You may consciously think you’d like to keep a neater house, or process your email more regularly, but if you don’t change the set point of the real standards you have about the amount of out-of-control-ness you actually will tolerate, they will slide back in spite of your best intentions. Pit your willpower against your unconscious cruise controls, and guess where I’ll place my bets.”
Read the rest of the short article at GettingThingsDone.com.