Daily Tip: Getting to Inbox Zero


For people who receive hundreds of emails per day, having a totally empty inbox seems like an impossible goal. Follow a subset of developers and startup mavens on Twitter, and sooner or later you’ll see a gleeful Tweet from one of them about approaching the semi-mythical “Inbox Zero.”

While there’s no way to stop the flood of email into your inbox—at least, short of leaving the grid entirely and living in the woods like a hermit—there are ways to eliminate at least the majority of the backlog. For starters, learn to love the delete button, especially when it comes to newsletters, email offers, and emails that you’ll never actually answer. Reserve time every day to answer those emails that demand some sort of response—use the 20 minutes you would’ve ordinarily spent tooling around Facebook or Twitter, for instance.

Getting to “Inbox Zero” is also dependent on your own behavior. If you respond to an email, you’ll get an email in return; with that in mind, make it a point to respond only when necessary, and you’ll see the number of emails in your inbox decline.

If worst comes to absolute worst, you could always hit the “Nuke” or “Reset” button by archiving all your email, deleting everything, or starting a whole new account. When you come back from the holidays and find 1,000 new emails in your box, this particular option will seem very, very tempting.

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