My life after more than one year of Inbox Zero


The first time I was introduced to the inbox zero (or zero inbox) concept was around 10 years ago by my binome Pierre Martin at INSA engineering school. I didn’t understand the goal. Seriously, why archive/forward/delete stuff when webmails can store more than you can ever receive?

Many years, many countries, many projects and many jobs later, I felt that email communication was getting on my nerves. I was always thinking about writing or replying things to people and thinking about the latest emails as “things to do”. I was forgetting older emails, sometimes losing important piece of information or opportunities, buried under forum notifications, newsletters and other messages I didn’t really care about.

I have been thinking about strategies to cope with this, but ultimately remembered Pierre and his email management technique. Why not giving it a try?

What’s in the inbox zero technique about?

  • Don’t leave the email client open.
  • Process email periodically throughout the day, perhaps at the top of each hour.
  • First delete or archive as many new messages as possible.
  • Then forward what can be best answered by someone else.
  • Immediately respond to any new messages that can be answered in two minutes or less.
  • Move new messages that require more than two minutes to answer — and messages that can be answered later — to a separate “requires response” folder.
  • Set aside time each day to respond to email in the “requires response” folder or chip away at mail in this folder throughout the day.

Good. But where to start?

As a new year resolution in 2016, I nuked everything in my inbox older than 10 days. Brutal.

I sorted out what was left, unsubscribed to newsletters I didn’t read, sent to spam when I could unsubscribe, tuned the communities’ notifications to minimum. And voila. I got started.
Now, I archive, delete, forward, reply in two minutes or dedicate time to reply later during the day. I’ve also disabled notifications* for incoming emails. I check my emails periodically, once every two hours or less. I apply this method at home and at work.

More than one year later… Peace of mind. So much peace of mind.

* Never ever allow any notification in your life.

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Engineer - Web Juggler - Confit de canard
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