Achieving Inbox Zero: A Simple Guide

May 27, 2024
#productivity #email
A glowing envelope with a foggy

In today's digital age, it's not uncommon to find ourselves drowning in a sea of emails. Some people have hundreds, thousands, or even more than a hundred thousand unread messages sitting in their inbox. But reaching that coveted state of Inbox Zero isn't as daunting as it might seem. Here's a straightforward strategy to help you manage your emails effectively and maintain a clean inbox.

The 30-Day Rule

First things first, let's tackle the old emails. A good rule of thumb is to mark as done all emails that are older than 30 days. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to delete them, but mark them ALL as done and consider them dealt with. This initial step helps clear out the backlog and sets the stage for a more manageable inbox moving forward.

Handling New Emails

When a new email arrives, you have a few options:

  • Mark it as done: If you've read it and no further action is needed, just mark it as complete.
  • Respond and mark as done: If a reply is warranted, send it off and then consider the conversation closed.
  • Postpone: If you can't address it immediately, reschedule it for a later date. This way, it's out of your inbox but on your radar.
  • Delete or spam: For unwanted emails, don't hesitate to delete them or mark them as spam.

The key is to take immediate action with each email. Don't let them linger in your inbox; decide which of these steps to take and keep your inbox clutter-free.

Scheduling and Tools

If you're not at your computer or can't deal with an email right away, scheduling is your friend. Set a time for the email to reappear in your inbox when you can give it your full attention.

While I personally use Superhuman as my email client and have had a great experience with it, it's not necessary to achieve Inbox Zero. The principles outlined here can be applied with any email service.


Remember, the goal is to be proactive with your inbox management. By following these simple steps, you'll find that maintaining an empty inbox is not only achievable but also liberating. Give it a try and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having a clean, organized inbox.

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📸 Photo by Midjourney (prompts by Marc Backes)