Inbox Zero is the last part of this four blog series on “second brains”. What’s Inbox Zero? Inbox Zero is what we call keeping your email inbox at zero emails. This doesn’t mean you delete every email. It just means that you have the important emails archived and the unimportant ones in the trash.
This may seem really intimidating and that is completely understandable! Trust me! Inbox Zero is worth it. I’m going to show you how to get there from wherever you are at!
How many emails do you have in your inbox? Let’s work on that. If you want to dedicate straight hours to clearing it out, go right ahead. If you’re like me and are too intimidated or too busy to knock it all out at once, set out a plan. Set a reminder to check your email three times a day. Whenever you check it, commit to going through 10-20 emails. Do you want to archive it or delete it? Don’t forget to be decisive!
Now you have Inbox Zero! How do you keep on top of emails? A big part of this is checking your inbox frequently. Set a reminder or create a habit of checking and deleting or archiving once a day. When you get an email from a store or a newsletter you don’t care about, unsubscribe! It’s easy to forget that you can do that! As you unsubscribe, less trash mail will come through your inbox.
If you unsubscribe from junk mail and dedicate a couple minutes a day to keeping your inbox at zero, you’ll always stay on top of those important emails and stay organized!
There are people out there who can remember stuff easily. They easily remember tasks that need completed or questions they need to ask. I am not one of those people. I’ll remember a question I need to ask a family member, but I can’t remember what it was when they get home. I think of a task I need to do, but I forget what it was after one of my siblings asks a question. I am one of those people that has to repeat something over and over again out loud in order to remember it.
One thing has had my back ever since I started doing it. What is it?
A task list.
What?! A task list?! Are you serious?
I most certainly am. This isn’t just any other task list. I have an app called Google Tasks on my phone and I have a widget for it on my home page. I almost always have my phone on me and it is so easy to open it up, and type that I need to purchase more shampoo.
Instead of going insane trying to remember what I needed to do, it’s on a list. It is in my “second brain”. Our brains can remember an incredible amount of information. Thoughts, however, are not physical. You can’t go through your brain like a file cabinet and remember word for word the essay you wrote for your history class back in high school.
This is why a “second brain” can be such a life saver. You can keep your thoughts, tasks, and events in a system that won’t forget them. A system where, even if you don’t know where to find specific notes, you can search keywords.
In my task widget, I can type anything! Where I put the keys, what I need to ask my dad, and what a task I need to complete. Whenever I open my phone, I see my list and scroll through it for things I have completed, no longer need to remember, or things I can do now. It is always so satisfying to check a task off the list. I highly recommend giving this a shot!
What are the benefits of taking notes? Note taking can help you remember and process key points from a group of information. It can be a way for you to look back and physically show what you took away from something. A video, podcast, sermon, lesson, book, etc.
I fully believe that notes can help to process and are great to keep to look back on. I take a lot of classes and notes are the best way to stay focused.
Have you ever thought about keeping digital notes? I have notebooks and tried to create a system for them. I learned that digital notes would be best for my classes. Why?
(Quick side note: I use Notion for my digital notes. There are different options out there and most of them have these perks)
Digital notes allow you to not have to worry about bad handwriting. I write so fast, it ends up just being scribbles.
Digital notes allow you to be more portable. I can connect my computer with my phone, so I can add on the go without bringing a specific notebook.
Digital notes allow you to have millions of separate notes, organized by category. You can keep personal and school notes in separate sections.
Digital notes allow you to search keywords. I know I heard a talk on procrastination, but what were the tips he gave? I can search for procrastination in my digital notes! You’d have to flip through pages to find that in a notebook.
Digital notes allow you to never run out of pages! You never have to worry about taking too many notes.
I’m not saying that digital notes are a perfect replacement for notebooks. Something about writing things down can be extremely beneficial. I recommend digital notes for notes you would like to be well organized, easily searchable and portable. A great example of this would be business notes. You can keep information about your business, to-dos, and resources all in one place. I highly recommend digital notes for business owners and students. Note taking in general isn’t for everyone. Digital note taking isn’t for everyone. If you think it might be for you, I encourage you to try it!
I can’t keep track of anything. Well, that’s not necessarily true. I can remember a lot. Our brains are very complex. They operate in so many different ways. Our brains can process and operate at high levels. When we see a ball being thrown, we calculate where it is going to land, move our bodies in response and can catch the ball. All that can happen within seconds. We don’t even put that much effort into it. You could have a conversation with someone while doing all these complicated movements and calculations. It’s amazing.
Yet, I can’t remember what I walked into a room for. I can’t remember what my mom told me to get at the store. Our brains are amazing, but they aren’t perfect. This is where a second brain can be your saving grace.
A second brain is when you don’t entirely rely on your brain to remember important information or ideas. You have something physical to look back on or remind you. It’s like a safety net for your forgetfulness! There have been so many times where I think of something I need to do and forget about it seconds later.There have been times where I said I would do something at a specific time and I completely forget about it. It happens all the time.
This post is part of a series of blog posts talking about different ways you can create a second brain.
There are 3 main ways people keep track of their schedule.
These are a great visual of your schedule. You can see everything!
It is very easy for families to see and add to. It can be placed in one central location.
The days are limited in space. You can only fit so many activities in one square.
It may be a good visual, but you can’t see every hour of your day. It’s not a great tool for planning complicated days.
You can’t add notes. If you would like to add the address of an event or something you need to remember to bring, this isn’t the right calendar for you.
You can’t set reminders. You will only remember when you look at the calendar.
It’s not very portable. You can’t add to it when you don’t have it on hand.
You have to get a new one every year. Not too hard, but worth noting.
Similar pros to the wall calendar. It’s very visual and is easy for families to add to.
There are usually pages where you can plan out your day in detail. You can plan out your day hour by hour if you’d like. Highly recommend this! It really helps with productivity.
You can add notes.
It can be fun to customize! You can use colored pens, stickers and other things to customize your planner.
It’s not the most portable but it is easier to transport than the wall calendar. You can’t add to it unless you have it with you. This can leave room for forgetfulness.
Can’t set reminders.
Can’t add to on the go unless you have it with you. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pain.
Have to get a new one every year.
It is very visual. You can color code and see the hours of the day.
You can add descriptions or special info to your events. Locations, what you need to remember, links, etc.
You have all the room you want to fit a packed, complicated day in.
You can set reminders for your events any period of time in advance.
It’s portable. You can have one like Google Calendar where you can sync up your computer and phone. It’s portable and easy to add to on the go.
Great if you just want a straightforward way to stay on top of your schedule.
There are a ton of different features. (At least on Google Calendar. That’s what I use). You can have multiple calendars and choose which ones you want to see and which ones you don’t at any given time. You can set up a family calendar, so you can all be on the same page. (Again, you can choose when you do or don’t wish to see this calendar). You can add locations, have events automatically repeat weekly, yearly, etc.
If cute stickers and journaling are your thing or you enjoy writing out your day, a schedule planner would be better. You could have both! You could maintain your schedule on a digital calendar and write/journal/decorate a notebook.
No matter what kind of calendar you use, it’s important to keep up with your schedule and always have it up to date. I have tried all three ways I listed above and the digital calendar has been the most beneficial for me. When something is being planned and I’m not home, I just add it to my calendar on the spot. I am trying to work on having a routine every day and I have a separate calendar for that. I hide it until I want to see it, so it doesn’t clog up my events. I can add locations and type what I need to remember to bring in the description. I color code by different areas of my life. Sports, church/youth group, work related, etc. I can set church up to repeat every Sunday forever. I don’t have to re-add it every single month.
There have been so many times where I would’ve forgotten about an event, but my calendar reminded me. I either noticed it when I checked my calendar or got a notification.
Keeping a calendar can be one way a second brain can back you up!