Years ago, I watched this video of Merlin Martin explaining his method of Zero Inbox. I was intrigued with the idea of making instant, quick, possibly radical, decisions daily about how to handle the constant flow of information arriving in my inbox. So, for a while, I followed his methods (more or less).
Then like most practices stemming from good intentions, I digressed and even regressed into bad behaviour. Things went from bad to worse, when I tried embracing a new idea, "only touch once". This idea states you should only handle a piece of information once. Read, think, respond, act. No previewing. No hesitation.
If you get an email or phone message on your voice mail and you know that you are not in the position to act upon the information given, don't open it. Do so when you can complete the task. If you only partially read an email and have to go back later to look at it, you are wasting time that first glance (previewing).
"Touch on once" does make sense on many levels. Yet, it also means that I amassed nearly 100 unread emails in the last six months.
Today was my day allocated to reading my nearly 100 "unread mails" and zeroing my inbox. Mission Accomplished!