Inbox Zero

6 minutes


Are you one of those who feel pressured or stressed out whenever you see your mailbox full of e-mails waiting for your attention? Even though some of it is really necessary, what purpose do the other emails serve? For today’s episode, I wanted to introduce a quick productivity tip for you -- inbox zero!

Hello and welcome to The Traveling Introvert. Today I would like to talk about inbox zero and it is not a myth, it is also not for everybody. But the reason I want to talk about it today is because I gave it a try and I've managed to more or less keep it for over a month. I wouldn't say I'm a convert but it's definitely helped with my workflow and my processes and stopped me feeling overwhelmed by my inbox. And so I'll walk you through what I did.

So the first thing I did was I had about, I think, 3000 emails in my mailbox to start with. And the first thing I did was I archived. Except everything from the past week, I archived everything else. And I archived because you can find it again. Yes, I could have gone through and checked what I needed to delete but that wasn't the best thing to do. I went and I checked for emails that I hadn't opened, or that I could filter.

So there's certain emails that come from certain organizations that I do want to read them, or they have it set up in a certain way that I get all the emails whereas I just want one or two of them or key words and so I set up filters for those. Then the next thing I did after archiving everything is went through the last week and I had a plan. If it was something that I could deal with straight away, I would email back. If it was something that was like, "Hey check this article out so you can read it". I would click it, open it up and then save it to Instapaper.

Now Instapaper is a read it later app that's across platforms and where when you then have time you can go in and read it later. Because you don't actually have to be reading it when you open your email, it's not urgent normally. So, anything that I could get away with messaging back straight away, I would. Anything that was an article or something that I wanted to read, I'd open it up, save it and Instapaper to read later. There are things that I was waiting on somebody's response, or I knew that I had to wait for a certain date so I would use the snooze function in Gmail. And so that's awesome because I'd go in and be like, "Snooze it," even if it's just for two hours because my day hadn't started yet, or it was going to be something that I have to have a meeting first and then knew I was going to respond to. And that was wonderful. Anything else would be archived.

And so I hit inbox zero and it was the first of the month and I was like, "Yay." And I sent an email to my accountability buddy. I was like "Look inbox zero," because she's a big fan of it. And I wanted to see if this method of doing things would work. And it did to a certain extent. I wasn't at inbox zero all the time because obviously you get a bunch of emails. I'd wake up in the morning and be like, "Oh, 68 emails. Wonderful." But during the first week after hitting mailbox zero, what I would do is look at the email and be like, "Do I need to receive this email? Is this on a mailing list? Is this something that I need every day? Is it useful information?" And then I tried to be harsh about it. If I didn't need it, I would unsubscribe.

And so that cut down on my emails even more. And then I know I'd set up a bunch of Google alerts. So I went into my Google alerts and was like, "Do I need all of these alerts? Can I refine them? Can I change how often they turn up?" That sort of a thing. And so it was really refreshing to see how much my inbox dropped, how much was coming in but also how I was dealing with what was coming in. And it was very rare that I got an email that I was like, "I don't know what I need to do with it. Do I need to do this or that or the other?" There were definitely ones where I didn't need to make a response straight away so I would wait until I was cleaning through my mailbox or there was something that I wanted to do.

The other thing, this was great, that I didn't realize was an option is if you go into your settings and you have options how you filter through your mailbox and how you work through it. And so what I got told was that there is an auto advance where instead of when you click and you delete or you archive something that it takes you back to your inbox, you should set it so it takes you to the next oldest conversation. Which is wonderful because then you just work through it. You'll open one email and then it's like, "Archive. Snooze. Instapaper. Archive. Answer." That sort of thing. And you go through and you knock it out and it's a wonderful thing and it's a very easy ... what seems like a simple thing, and I didn't realize how much of a difference it would make. So that is how I got to and stayed at inbox zero.

Thank you for listening. This is Janice at, please feel free to email me any questions at, helping introverts launch their podcasts with a minimum overwhelm.

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