By Arielle Mullen

Consider the following: in 2018, there were over 139 billion emails sent and received every single day. That's billion with a "b". If reading that statistic made your blood pressure rise and wonder how many emails have piled up in your inbox in the last few minutes, you're not alone. For most of us who rely on email as their primary mode of communication, the thought of checking email at 8am on Monday is a task guaranteed to induce stress. 

The concept of Inbox Zero was originally created by writer and productivity guru, Merlin Mann. Contrary to popular belief, the "Zero" in Inbox Zero doesn't refer to always maintaining an empty inbox. Instead it's meant to reference the amount of time an employee's brain is in their inbox. The core principles developed by Mann are fairly simple: 

  • Keep email software closed for the majority of the workday
  • When processing email, use the principle of delete, delegate, respond, defer, or do
  • Always respond immediately if an email can be answered in two minutes or less

While an incredibly useful tool, Inbox Zero might not be right for everyone. For many, the concept of Inbox Zero might make sense on paper, but difficult to enact on a daily basis. If you're someone for whom the adage of "out of sight, out of mind" applies, Inbox Zero might not be a great fit. 

However, if managing your inbox is a task that regularly causes you stress, we highly suggest testing the Inbox Zero waters. Interested in testing this productivity-boosting method? Try the following tips: 

  • Use filters. Seriously. Setting these up will take a bit of time and thought, but it will save you countless hours in the long run
  • Don't fall into Zero obsession. Keep in mind, the purpose of Inbox Zero is to reduce your email-related anxiety so you can focus on other things. If you're only able to get to it once a week, it's ok!
  • Once an email is opened, process it. (Remember, delete, delegate, respond, defer, or do). 

Interested in learning more about how to apply Inbox Zero? Attend our upcoming Productivity Series event!

Recommended for you…