Inbox Zero: don’t let your inbox control you | by Raquel Piqueras


It’s Monday, 8:00am and you’ve just arrived at your desk. With coffee in hand and motivated to start a very productive week, you open your email. Wow. 26 new items in your inbox, which already contains 1390 emails. You recall how you actually left the office pretty late on Friday, having made sure to attend to all your inbox needs. So how did this happen?

You scan them quickly and head into a busy morning of meetings, feature kick-offs with PMs, final CSS tweaks with your devs, and usability study planning with your researcher. At lunch, you glance at your inbox again: 38 unread messages. Some are follow-ups from your devs, your researcher has a question from the previous meeting, and your coworker wants to reschedule your design review. All these emails are mixed in with recurring newsletters from a team you don’t really care about, happy hour invites, and feature announcements of a product that sounds familiar. You do your best to reply to the most important ones and carry on with your day.

Now it’s the end of the day, and your manager comes to you and asks why you haven’t answered her high-priority email yet, which has been sitting in your inbox since early this morning. What? How did we get here? Does this sound familiar?

Introducing the Inbox Zero Approach

For the longest time, I felt like my email was an untamed beast that was impossible to control. I kept wasting time reading and deleting emails, and I was constantly late in answering or even acknowledging the important ones. Managing my email was taking up most of my time, and it definitely did not spark joy. I started to research ways to manage my email better, when I came across the concept of “Inbox Zero”.

Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the Inbox empty — or almost empty — at all times. Developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann, the initial approach to Inbox Zero consisted on identify five possible actions to take for each message: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.


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