The pandemic has caused most of our work to shift to an online mode. Our inboxes, flooded with emails, be it work-based, or promotional, or from social media. It could be distressing to see a never-ending pile of unopened emails. Rather than adding to our productivity, which is supposedly the function of these emails, they consume our precious time away. This is where the concept of what is Inbox Zero for efficient email management, created by Merlin Mann, comes to our rescue.

What is Inbox Zero?

what is inbox zero

Inbox Zero intends to help you maintain your inbox clean or nearly empty, so you don’t have to worry about your emails. Inbox zero is an efficient email management strategy.

Merlin Mann introduced the concept of Inbox Zero. He is a productivity expert whose expertise is creativity, independence, and creating things that you love. As per Mann, the expression “zero” in inbox zero does not refer to the inbox’s number of messages. It means “how long it takes to use the inbox.”

The goal of Inbox Zero is to motivate email users to decide where they opt to spend their energy consciously. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what and how to achieve inbox zero. Use this guide to ensure you don’t waste your time or energy and get back to doing things genuinely enjoy.

Is Inbox Zero Possible?

Yes! You can achieve the concept of Inbox Zero. Here in this article, we will share the tips to make this email management strategy possible. Here is an action plan to know what is inbox zero and implement it:

  1. Delete
    Ask yourself this question, ‘Is this mail important to me?’ If your answer is no, then delete the email right away. That will help you increase productivity at work. At times, this task could be daunting because what if you need that email later? The critical point here is that you complete the job right at the moment and avoid putting the task off to last – if you need to delete the email, do it right away and remove the clutter from your inbox for efficient email management to know what is inbox zero.
  2. Delegate
    Are you the right person for this email? Or Is it possible that anyone else is better at this than you? If the email or assignment requires another person’s input until you can proceed, ensure you assign it to the appropriate person. This is one of the best email management tool to know what is inbox zero and manage too many emails.  People won’t have to wait for you to pass on details, and they’ll be able to get started on their work immediately to increase productivity.
  3. Respond
    Is it possible for you to answer the email in less than two minutes? If yes, then do it! It is a wise choice to respond to an important mail immediately. However, you could keep all the emails aside that don’t need immediate attention. You can answer these emails in a specific time interval. If you provide the estimated timeline of when you will do the task, you are setting a deadline for yourself. This is one of the best time management techniques to know what is inbox zero. This deadline will motivate you to complete the job. Oh, in case the email is relevant, go back to step 1.
  4. Defer
    Is this email going to take me longer than 2 minutes? If yes, then defer! To defer the email means that you are putting the task in the email in your to-do list. This is done in cases when the work requires your attention but is not an immediate priority. But make sure that you do not ignore the task. This will help you to increase your productivity. If you’re already in your inbox, you can “sleep” an email to have it show later when you have more time to deal with it for better email management gmail. Optionally, you might change the due date of an assignment to achieve the same result.
  5. Do
    Do the task now! If you can complete the job within 2 to 20 minutes, then complete the task right away. The important thing is to get your schedule clear. Delaying or procrastinating over simple quick tasks ultimately pile up to waste your time at the end of the day. Efficient email management can not only increase your productivity but also make you more time efficient as you understand what is inbox zero.

Now that we know what is inbox zero, how to not overdo it?

Mann gave the idea of inbox zero in 2007 when there was only one email. But right now, we have various categories of emails, promotional, social media DMs, personal emails, work emails. Things were a lot simpler back then.

The solution is to realize that the goal of knowing what is inbox zero is to make you dissect the time on how you are spending your time in various inboxes. It’s no wonder that you’re stressing out if your focus is too stretched, thin as you’re constantly reacting to emails from all these different sites.

It would be best if you accepted that you could not do it all. Allow yourself to take the liberty to decide to prioritize emails and let go of the emails that are not that useful. 

“But do not use inbox zero as an excuse to not respond to emails.”

A study by Microsoft researchers found that ignoring emails is a telltale sign of a poor manager. It would help if you continued to prioritize the things in your inbox. 

Be Careful with the clean slate approach

To know what is Inbox Zero and to achieve it, begin developing a strategy for determining what is necessary and what is not. There are several time management techniques to reduce the amount of time invested in email. Mann recommends setting aside time thrice a day to keep up on your inbox. Few productivity experts advise against checking email first thing in the morning to concentrate on deep work tasks.

Remember, not every approach will work for everyone. You need to try out a combination of different methods to know what is Inbox Zero and find your perfect strategy.

Do you now know what is inbox zero?

Inbox Zero is a tool for time management to increase productivity. When used wisely, it can save you from the hassle of going through an overflowing inbox.  Here is a gist of the Inbox Zero approach:

  • Delegate a fixed time to check your emails.
  • Prioritize your emails.
  • Follow Delete → Delegate → Respond → Defer → Do.
  • Do not overdo Inbox zero (do not obsess over replying to every email), but respond to important emails.
  • Do not try to have a clean slate. 


How do you write a formal email request?

1. Begin the email stating the purpose of the email.
2. Next, mention your request concisely and politely.
3. End the email thanking the recipient for their time.

How do you apologize for sending too many emails?

Begin the email with a sincere apology for sending many emails followed by an honest reason for sending many emails.

How do I delete 50000 emails?

1. Select emails by category, sender, or subject and delete.
2. Set appropriate filters to delete by bulk.
3. Delete old emails that are redundant.

How can I delete emails in bulk?

 As soon as you click the Bulk Select checkbox, all the messages that met your search criteria are automatically checked. To delete them, click the Trash icon above the selected messages.