Inbox zero is the mythical destination that we all wish we could reach.
Email takes up more of our lives than ever before, and without strategies to manage it, it can become overwhelming. So how can you help yourself get to inbox zero – and how can you stay there?
1. Use the new Gmail…
The much-hyped new version of Gmail boasts a completely redesigned interface intended to make it very much easier to get to and stay at inbox zero. It helps you achieve this by automatically sorting your email into three or four tabs; for example, Primary, Social, and Promotions. Google’s algorithm is pretty adept at identifying what belongs where, and this can prove to be a massive help in reducing inbox clutter.
2. …or Mailbox
Alternatively, you might choose to use the new Mailbox app. This is designed specifically for mobile, and can help you reach zero through the use of a variety of little tricks and tools. Primary amongst these is a ‘swipe to snooze’ function, which allows you to vanquish email from your inbox for a certain length of time, and have it then reappear for attention later. Mailbox also begins by encouraging wholesale archiving, which can be the nudge you need to start getting to zero.
3. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe
Chances are, the bulk of your email isn’t actually coming from real people. The amount of spam we receive, whether ‘requested’ or not, is constantly rising, but you can help to reduce unwanted clutter by embarking on a mass unsubscribe session. This is particularly simple if you are using the new Gmail, as you can simply scroll through your Promotions and Social tabs and see what’s unnecessary. In the future, when making purchases try to untick ‘subscribe me to your email list’ buttons wherever possible, and think carefully about the distribution lists that you decide to join.
4. Use filters
Filters are your friends when trying to eliminate unwanted email. Scroll through your inbox and try to identify patterns in your email. Do the emails that don’t deserve inbox space tend to come from the same people? Or do they carry similar subject lines? If so, use your email client to set up filters to direct these away from your inbox for attention at a later date – or, if you’re feeling really daring, direct them straight to the bin.
5. Remember it's ongoing
Finally, while it is all very well getting to inbox zero, it is even more important that you take steps to ensure that you stay there. In addition to the filters and rules that you have already set up, this requires you to pay sufficient attention to your email. This means taking every opportunity to tend to your inbox – when you’re on the train, in a queue, when you’re on your way to the office. By taking a few seconds to attend to each email as it arrives, you can help to prevent a backlog building up.