How to Get to Inbox Zero Every Day

Ask any business person what their biggest frustration is, and chances are you’ll find email at the top of their list. Receiving and processing email can add a huge burden to an already overstuffed day. In my day job, I receive up to 100 emails per day. This adds up to 500 emails per week and 2000 emails per month. Just imagine having this in your physical mailbox. Insane, right?

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Every 5 minutes I get a notification of a new email.

Imagine stopping every 5 minutes to look at your email. This kills any type of productivity and focus.

Did you know that if you’re working on something and you get distracted like this, it can take up to 25 minutes to get mentally back to the original topic? With an email notification coming in every 5 minutes, the day would be over before you even know it, and you’d wonder what you even got done.

Inbox Zero is the answer

Maintaining an empty inbox, or “Inbox Zero”, is the key to keeping your email from growing into a job that feels too big to handle.

With so much email coming in, and even more email still in the inbox, Inbox Zero seems impossible—but is it?

After years of tweaking my workflows, testing all sorts of tools and methods, I finally found the perfect combination of tools and rules that help me to get Inbox Zero EVERY single day. More importantly, it is not only an empty inbox: Everything is organized into tasks that come up on my time-management software when it’s the right time to process it.

The ruleset I am about to share with you was inspired by David Allen and his book GTD as well as Tim Ferris and his book The 4-Hour Work Week. Both books cover, in much detail, how they handle a busy inbox. I took some key points out of both methods and implemented it into my existing workflow.

It’s important to understand the key message here. Applying the following rules is one thing, but it is much more important to make quick decisions. The more often you process your inbox using these rules, the faster you will be able to bust through it.

Rule 1 – Fixed email processing times

Instead of responding to each email every time an alert goes off, bulk process the emails in fixed time slots that should not be longer than 30 minutes.



4 thoughts on “How to Get to Inbox Zero Every Day”

  1. I use Spark, which has a snooze feature for delaying specific emails to more convenient time slots. Still I love the idea of switching emails to tasks when necessary. One perfect use case is I can actually answer an email with “I’ll get back to you on this” and migrate it to a task after that response.

  2. I was a long time user of Evernote by reason of the Clipper. But since I use Office 365 E3 at work, and MS have finally applied a great clipper to Onenote, that is now my go to App for gathering stuff. Easier share with others too.
    I also like Pocket……

    1. Hi Neil! I really love the WebClipper from Evernote too! And yes OneNote offers a great clipper too. I would wish that Notion would provide a better one….. Thanks for bringing up Pocket! I nearly forgot about this and I think I will have a second go with it.

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