What are the 3 best ways to reach Inbox ZERO for your brain?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Help Desk (HD): Please create a pst file because you have exceeded your quota in your Inbox!

Me: Doh! I hate Outlook and all those unread emails. I have already 3000 of them stored in a PST (Outlook Data File) folder.

HD: Mr Diallo, is your login XXXXXXX?

Me, calling from my office line with call identification: Yes, it is me and my email address is example@mycompany.com

HD: Make sure also to remove items from your Sent Items folder and your recycled bin as they add to your quota of 5 GB!

Me: Ok, thank you! I will sure do!

Summer 2018: we decide to migrate to Google, to foster more collaboration as stated by our CIO Luc Hennekens.

And with the professional GSuite, you have unlimited storage. I don’t have to worry about not exceeding the 15 GB as for my personal gmail accounts. Yes I have a lot of them to increase my storage capability without paying an annual fee.

Yes I know that nothing is infinite in this world, except Human stupidity. I am aware that this unlimited storage in some magic cloud, high in the sky, is not a magic land. I am aware of the fact that I am contributing to global warming with servers running for my unlimited storage, or even my limited storage and the ones of billions of people around the world.

Yet all I see is that I will not need to have any more to worry about exceeding my quota in Outlook. Now sky (pollution) is the limit.

I can, from now on, not only never delete an email, but also have more labels for my thousand unread messages.

I tried a lot of hacks to get to Inbox Zero when I was in Outlook and had a limited quota. I failed miserably.

“Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty — or almost empty — at all times.”

Source: WhatIs.com

Now that I can have unlimited storage with Gmail, this will not help me to get to Inbox zero either. This is a fail by design for me! Thanks Google!

Which side are you on?

Sometimes I see those numbers in bold in brackets, “(3000)”, and I try to ignore them. Yet it is 3000 ghosts potentially trying to tell me something.

The only way I found to silence them is the 2 weeks rule. I will store them and if nobody comes back to me during 2 weeks, I free them by letting them read.

I can live with that in a corporate world where trying to stop the flow is like trying to see yourself as a damn that can stop the Amazon river. It might be a noble cause, yet it is doomed to fail.

However this is something I am not willing to accept outside of my mailbox. Indeed when it comes to my physical inbox, aka my brain, I strive to get Inbox Zero at any cost necessary.

My brain is where the magic happens for me. And we might have unlimited brain power, yet we have limited brain storage.

Imagine your brain being Google Chrome, you can do amazing things with it. Yet no matter how much internal storage (RAM — Random Access Memory), it won’t be enough for Google Chrome, trust me. And this is especially true when you have a lot of tabs opened in your brain.

Like my outlook quota, my brain Inbox has limited Space Power to Allocate Content Everyday (SPACE). Yes this is a fractal, you are welcome!

When my brain is full, it has 3 main disadvantages for me.

The first one is that it requires a lot of energy all the time to maintain a full loaded brain, everyday.

The second disadvantage is that when it is full, by definition, there is no place for new, fresh ideas.

The third issue with an always fully loaded brain is that it can have physical consequences on my health like anxiety, the sensation of losing control over my life and the feeling of being more prone to cold in winter.

Below are 3 tips I used to unload my brain and have room for more empty space:

Let’s do a deep dive on each method that I use below.

1. Limit the inflow upstream

One of the best ways to avoid a Distributed Denial of Service attack of DDoS attack on your brain is to limit the number of queries that you can allow to reach it for the first time.

This is a geeky way to say that you have to be a master of saying no.

I will let Steve Jobs explain it better than me.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Steve Jobs

This is the best way I found to limit those little ghosts from entering my brain and eating my RAM.

“No” is what constitutes my gatekeepers that safeguard my brain kingdom.

“No” is the North wall that keeps the White Walkers from entering my Westeros!

“No” is my spiderman ultimate power to get those flies trying to be a trojan horse to my brain.

2. Process the current flow in real time

I use 2 methods to process all the ideas that went through the first wall.

First I welcome them with open arms because if they are here, sitting on the table of my brain, it means that these ideas have the grit required to overcome challenges.

Then I tell them that my brain is just a passage. They might stay for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, or a week, but no more.

I give them 3 choices:

My brain is the AirBnB host to my ideas.. It’s a welcoming place once you have paid the expenses fees to be there. Yet you can not live in your AirBnB forever. For my brain the condition is one week stay, at max. No negotiation possible.

3. Offload the outflow downstream

Like a train track, my brain synapse and neurons network must be free, no traffic jam is authorised.

The ideas in my notebook can become a product to develop, a new skill to acquire, a blueprint to my next gig, an idea of content to create.

By off-loading my brain drive of all these ideas, I make rooms for new, fresh ideas to come in.

My journal is where I upload my values, my emotions, my fears and hopes, what I have learned so far in life, my failures; the things that I am grateful for everyday.

By journaling on a daily basis, I make sure that all those things listed in my journal are no more in my brain.

I can see them materialise in real life.

By creating content on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, I am also using the ideas from my notebook to materialize them into actionable items.

By the end of the week, my brain has been dumping data either on a daily or a weekly basis.

These are the 3 methods that help me have more clarity in my life, being more focused on what really matters to me and ultimately being more present for me, my loved ones and all the people I interacted with.

By limiting the input, processing the data flow and executing or archiving the outflow, I don’t need to upgrade to the next iPhone, to buy more storage in Google Cloud or to risk the Blue screen of death from a Microsoft high end laptop.

I believe that, ultimately, we don’t need more SPACE.

What we need is a SPACE FORCE!

Because when lost in space, we all need to bust the ghosts, those Alien ghosts invading our head!

Who doesn’t need a SPACE FORCE soldier to protect your moonshot?

I, Mad, do!

What are your tips to protect your brain?

What is your approach to Inbox Zero philosophy?

Did you binge the Space Force on Netflix?

Leave a comment below.

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You can read my previous article on Why are these 3 skills ALL you need to navigate through life?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash



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Ahmadou Diallo ✪

🤎 Afropean 📖 Griot 🧙🏿‍♂️Mentor 💪🏿 Entrepreneur