Emails have now become the basis of our corporate lives. Every move in the corporate world is documented in emails. This is the main reason why we are plagued with too many emails. An average individual receives at least 120 emails per day and spends almost 28% of productive time in reading and answering email communication. Without e mail management, we experience a new level of stress in our professional life. But by using the proven inbox zero methods, we can not only achieve better productivity but also a healthy work and life balance. Dive into this article to understand all you need to know about taking your inbox to zero!

Define Inbox

inbox zero

In simple terms, inbox can be defined as the electronic folder or “e-box” in your email software that stores all your email communication. 

What is Inbox Zero or Empty Inbox?

Inbox Zero

Inbox zero is a concept introduced in 2006 by a productivity specialist, Merlin Mann, who seeded this idea of achieving an empty inbox. Though widely misunderstood because of its literal translation, Inbox zero is basically a practice of reducing the time we spend in our email inbox. And has nothing to do with the amount of emails in your inbox or inbox zero is akin to having an empty inbox. 

As dreamy as this idea is, it is just as impossible to achieve without proper email management. Dealing with everything at once while being productive is more stressful than freeing. 

Merlin Mann inbox zero

Inbox Zero

According to Mann, the inbox 0 is not a reference to the number of messages in an inbox; it is “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” It is the ability to “switch off” from one’s inbox and to concentrate on the work at hand.

While explaining inbox zero, Merlin Mann points out that time and attention are finite and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity suffers. Even after the distraction is dealt with, getting back to work with the same productivity is highly difficult.

Famous Inbox zero Merlin Mann quotes

“Where you allow your attention to go ultimately says more about you as a human being than anything that you put in your mission statement.”

Email inbox management statistics

Inbox zero

According to a study, professionals receive 304 weekly business emails on an average. This adds up to an average of more than 200 emails in their inbox. Moreover, we receive 120 new ones each day but respond to only 25% of them. This results in professionals checking their email 15 times per day, or every 37 minutes. Due to this over checking of emails, the average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and answering email. Amongst these, 20% of “permission mailers” (e.g. newsletters) are opened. Time is further wasted as they spend 15-20 seconds reading each of these emails, consuming more than four minutes per day.

Over-checking email wastes 21 minutes per day – If people checked their email hourly rather than every 37 minutes, they could cut six email checks from their day. It is also noticed that it can take people up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully recover after an interruption, such as a break to check email. We could save more than half of the time we currently spend on email, or one hour and 21 minutes per day.

Importance of Inbox Management

Inbox zero

Managing email inbox is a process that requires patience and effort. But this hard work is easily outweighed by the various benefits of email inbox management:

  1. Reduced clutter
    Managing email inbox is the easiest way to reduce the clutter in the inbox. Lesser the number of unimportant emails, better the organization of emails. With proper inbox management, your inbox remains up-to-date without any unnecessary emails.
  2. Better productivity
    Better email inbox management in turn results in better productivity. With your well organized email inbox, all your important emails are now within quick access. This enables you to stay on top of all your email tasks with greater efficiency. As you get better at what you do, your productivity improves.
  3. Better time efficiency
    Managing email inbox leads to a more organized email inbox. All your important emails and documents are in your hand’s reach. Add to this an improved level of productivity and you end up saving loads of time that you’d otherwise waste. You also utilize less time in completing your tasks, thanks to your well organized email inbox. All these factors make you more time efficient.
  4. Better Work and Personal life Balance
    With the better organization that comes in managing email inbox, all tasks are completed more swiftly. Tasks that used to take forever because time would be wasted in looking for important emails are now saved.
  5. Bigger profits
    With better productivity and better time efficiency, your overall output also increases. This results in a positive increase that affects your company’s sales, turnover and overall profit. On an individual level, managing email inbox profits you as you get better and grow in your career. Check out this productivity calculator to know how you can organize emails to increase productivity and profits.

Inbox Zero Method

Inbox zero

Now that we know what is inbox zero and how it benefits our performance, we dive right into how to achieve it. The inbox zero method is instrumental in relieving stress resulting from too many emails. This stress leads to anxiety of over checking one’s emails that leads us to take shelter in a digital detox. To avoid reaching that stage, let us understand the two main ways of using the inbox zero method. Check your inbox to assess and choose your own way to inbox zero.

  1. With Automation
    Using email management softwares, managing email inbox can be easily automated. Various email management solutions like Mailman can help set email management schedules. Habits like these are essential to not only achieve inbox zero but also maintain it. Thus using automation tools can make achieving inbox zero very easy.
  2. With DIY Tools for Inbox Zero
    Apart from using email management softwares, there are various email management tips that you can do yourself. These tips can be used by one and all to get better at email management and reach inbox to zero. Using these email management methods with consistent effort makes it easy to achieve inbox zero with ease.

How to get your Inbox to zero?

Inbox zero

Knowing what is inbox zero and what are the ways to use inbox zero methods is necessary for better email inbox management. Here is all you need to know about inbox zero methods and how to use them.

Automate your way to inbox zero

Using email management softwares is the best way to automate your email inbox management. Here are our 3 favorite email management tools to easily achieve inbox zero.

1. Mailman– Achieve Inbox zero fast!

The Do Not Disturb mode lets you schedule time periods in which you would prefer to not receive any email notifications. In these time windows, you can concentrate better on the task at hand, while achieving better productivity. This is the best email management tool and is an essential part of efficient email management.

Mailman allows you to decide delivery slots for your emails. This means that you can schedule certain time slots wherein you would like to receive your emails. These time slots could recur hourly throughout the day, as per your convenience. Mailman also stringently filters and blocks emails that contain newsletters and similar spam. It also blocks emails from senders that you haven’t interacted with before. It then provides you a digest of these blocked emails once a day. This makes sure that any important emails are not mistakenly locked by the email management software.

2. Hiver– CC it the right way!

A major chunk of our inboxes consists only of forwards and replies of emails that you are perhaps not a part of. One gets entangled in this mass chain of emails because one is mentioned in the CC. CCs are generally used to make sure the concerned people are ‘in the know’ but results in way too many emails. Hiver helps you achieve that purpose of managing email inbox, minus the clutter. It allows you to write simple notes that exist parallel to emails and provide context. 

Hiver also strives to automate repetitive tasks by auto-assigning emails based on predefined rules, distributing workload with round-robinsignment, and focusing on what’s truly important. Hiver also builds custom reports to measure metrics specific to your business. 

3. FollowUpThen– Never forget to follow up again!

Never forget to follow up on your emails ever again. This email management softwares helps you set a reminder of when you want to follow up on any sent email. All you have to do, for example, is to tag 3days@followupthen.com in the ‘bcc’ field and the app will follow up exactly 3 days later.

This email management software also serves as an effective reminder for efficient time management. All you need to do is forward your pending emails to 8am@followupthen.com, for example. You could set that time as you see fit to be able to check your emails at ease. For the rest of the time, be productive leading your Inbox to zero. It also lets you send important notes or documents to yourself, at a time scheduled by you.

DIY Inbox to Zero 

Inbox zero

Apart from the above tools, here are 5 traditional and tested email management tips that have stood the test of time. These email management solutions will suit you the best if you want to control your inbox all by yourself.

  1. Discipline Your Mindset
    All efforts towards Inbox zero are futile if we don’t fight the impulse to check our inboxes. We have been long trained to respond to every email as we receive it to ‘keep up’ with the world. But to achieve Inbox zero, and some peace, resist this temptation. This resistance will perhaps be one of your best email management tools.
  2. Stay on schedule
    Email management is all a numbers game. But these numbers pertain to the time you put into your making and maintaining a schedule. You must have pre-decided time periods cut out of your day to check into your inboxes. It is necessary to avoid checking your emails outside of these time windows that you’ve set for yourself. And it goes without saying that you should also set a time limit you spend in your email. We don’t want all our email management efforts to go in vain, do we?
  3. Unsubscribe
    Most of the emails in our inbox are deletable. And these are primarily newsletters or product alerts or something in those lines, that aren’t productive. In these cases, unsubscribing from these sites is the best way out. Gmail extensions like HelpNinja, Gmail Unsubscriber, Unroll.Me can handle that for better email management.

    But what if you need some of these subscriptions? Well in that case, you could make an email id separate from your work or professional email. Thus your work email inbox stays away from too many emails, heads to inbox zero, and you do not miss out on your beloved newsletters.
  4. Filter it out
    The main problem with too many emails is the absolute load of it. Handling a huge amount of emails not only takes time, but also patience. Email softwares like Gmail allow you to set filters to sort through the bunch of incoming emails. These filters could be used to divide emails according to a sender, or a subject line, or urgency. These filters point to separate folders. Thus all incoming emails are sorted into these folders.

    This email management strategy helps you sort your way through the barrage of emails one faces. It makes it easier to reply to essential emails, knowing the emails are sorted out appropriately.
  5. Do it and delete
    The influx of emails all day long is an unstoppable affair. The temptation to peek at every notification too is unstoppable. But the problem begins when we read and decide to delay the task. That is when we have a huge pile of emails and tasks to go through at the end of the day. How does one tackle that? You could either-

    -Do the task right away if it will take less than a minute, like if it’s a simple reply or a task that is just a few clicks away.
    -If it is a task that will take longer, just schedule it for a later time of the day when you can do it well.
    -The intention of these two options is to get your head out of that email and let you concentrate on the task at hand.

Achieve inbox zero gmail with the right tools

Gmail email software is one of the most common email softwares used by professionals. Over 1.5 billion people use Gmail as their email software. This makes understanding how to achieve inbox zero all the more important. If you are looking for the best tool for inbox zero in Gmail, then we recommend Mailman as the only tool you will need.

Tools like Mailman are optimized such as to help you reach gmail inbox zero. With features like Do Not Disturb, Batched Delivery, VIP list, Blocked list, etc, Mailman is widely renowned to help you reach inbox zero with great speed and ease. Its optimum privacy and security along with its easy to use UI make it a great choice to achieve inbox zero with only a few clicks! World renowned clients like Webflow, Google, SuperHuman, Dribble, Lyft and MemberStack have found their inbox zero with Mailman. The dais is now yours.

Inbox zero for your Email Inbox!

The need for inbox email management is a result of the huge number of emails we receive everyday. The lessons learned from the inbox zero method let us know that when we reduce distractions from our lives, our life transforms for the better. Hence methods like deep work benefit greatly the focus instilled by inbox zero. Thus inbox to zero improves our productivity as well as improves our work life balance.

How do I get my Gmail inbox to zero?

1. Schedule your email management habits well.
2. Fight the impulse to check your emails over and over.
3. Invest in a good email management tool like Mailman.
4. Use your tool and extensions cleverly.
5. Remain consistent in your email management efficiency.

Should you clear your inbox?

You should clear your inbox off unwanted emails like subscriptions and newsletters by unsubscribing. But it is not advised to delete all your emails to achieve inbox zero. Instead use inbox zero strategies.

How do I get to my email inbox?

1. Navigate to gmail.com using any Web browser.
2. Enter your Google username and password in the the Username and Password fields and click “Sign In” to log in to your Google account. The default view is the Inbox folder. Click the “Inbox” link in the left pane if you don’t see your inbox, to go to your Inbox folder.

What is the fastest way to get to inbox zero?

1. Unsubscribe from newsletter and spam
2. Use folders and filters to organize emails.
3. Set a schedule to process emails.
4. Set a timer to control the amount of time you spend in the inbox.
5. Respond immediately to emails that can be answered in 2 minutes.

How do I control my inbox?

1. Set filters and inbox rules.
2. Use folders and labels to categorize emails.
3. Unsubscribe from spam.
4. Delete all spam emails.

Who invented Inbox Zero?

Merlin Mann, a productivity expert, coined the term Inbox Zero in 2007.

Should you clear your inbox?

You can delete unimportant emails like spam and newsletters without any hesitation. Archiving emails is another way of clearing your inbox without losing the emails forever.