Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer EdTech Challenge #1: Inbox Zero

Welcome to the Summer EdTech Challenge! Summertime is a wonderful time to be a teacher! It's the perfect time to recharge your batteries, catch up on trends in education, read for pleasure, and learn new things. How about taking the opportunity to learn new tech skills or try out new tools and strategies?

Each Monday this summer I'll post a simple tech challenge, something you can do between dips in the pool and binge watching your favorite TV show. These challenges are practical, easy to implement ideas to help you develop your tech skills and start next year off on the right technology foot!

A few days ago my wife decided to help my young daughters clean their bedroom. When she was finally done and came out of the room she had two full garbage bags, one filled with garbage and the other filled with old toys, books, and clothes to donate to charity. The room looked fantastic, everything was in its place, and we could finally walk around the room! Bonus: she also found many missing items including clothes that needed washing.

Just like bedrooms need a good cleaning every now and then, so does your email inbox. The school year is over, most tasks completed, and teachers are preparing for a fresh start next school year. Now is the perfect time to go through your email inbox, prioritize and finish any tasks, delete old or unneeded emails, and employ a few strategies to reduce the number of emails you get in the future.

Your Summer EdTech Challenge this week is to get your email inbox down to zero (or as close as you can). Hop on over to my previous post, Mission: Email Inbox Zero and follow the suggestions there. At the time that I wrote that post our district only used InterAct for email. Within the last year many schools have started using Gmail as we transition into Google Apps for Education. Don't forget to apply this challenge to your Gmail account as well!

The previous post linked above has directions only for InterAct. You can't create folders in Gmail, but you can use labels to accomplish the same task. Directions for creating and using labels can be found here.

If you are interested in learning more about inbox zero, check out Merlin Mann's original work on this concept. He's the one that coined the "inbox zero" phrase back in 2007 and has a lot of excellent tips and ideas on managing your email.

Right now I have 420 emails in my InterAct account and 186 in my Gmail account. I'm committed to getting those down to zero if I can. I'll post my own reply here to let you know how I did.

In the comments below, let me know how you did. Were you able to get down to zero? How do you feel now that your inbox is a lot cleaner?


  1. I was able to get my InterAct email inbox down to 9 emails. Three of those are drafts that I'll be finalizing and send out this week. The final ones I need to deal with before deleting.

    As for my Gmail account, I was able to get that down to 14 emails. There are a few conversations and resources I need to deal with. Of course this is always an ongoing process, but that's part of the trick. Deal with the emails as they come in (or eliminate the number that come in) and then its always easy to keep that inbox under control.

  2. Replies
    1. Awesome! I found Gmail had more "junk" in it because of all the notifications I get when files are shared, students upload in Google Classroom and the like. I didn't really have a lot of emails I needed to actually do something with.

      I'm glad I decided to clean house in the summer too. The number of emails coming in has dropped off dramatically!

  3. Thought you might like this:

    1. Loved that article. I agree with everything he said. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

  4. I just agree with Jennifer Maher