Inbox Zero, Yes, Really

Even with services like Slack dominating communication norms, email is still my key organization and communication tool. This is not for lack of adopting or adapting, rather accommodating the greatest number of folks I collaborate with and ultimately support. Given that, I moved to the inbox zero approach several years ago.

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

Why? It allows me to most effectively prioritize incoming requests, close loops quickly and consistently, and forces me to file infinite flavors of incoming communication into one of only three possible categories.

How? I intermittently hand-sort ~75% of incoming messages. Spam and auto rules account for the other ~25%. I near instinctively at this point move messages into one of only three states:

  • Urgent
  • Important, Not Urgent
  • Miscellaneous

That is it, and it works beautifully for me and many others.

A tip for those prone to avoid multitasking and/or on-screen distractions: disable your email client’s new message notification. If you are becoming disciplined in your intermittent hand-sorting, you do not need to see these notifications.

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