Inbox zero is a popular productivity strategy that involves keeping your email inbox empty. This can be a challenge for some people, but there are many benefits to inbox zero — as well as a caveat to be aware of. Let’s take a look.

What is Inbox Zero?

The premise of inbox zero is that you should aim to keep your email inbox cleared out at all times. This means deleting, archiving, or responding to emails so that your inbox contains zero messages. The concept was developed by Merlin Mann, who has since said that people have taken the idea far too literally. In fact, if you plan on trying this productivity technique, try not to become obsessed with an empty inbox.

Pros of Inbox Zero

There are many benefits to inbox zero, including:

  • You will likely feel more in control of your email and be less overwhelmed by it.
  • It can help you to focus on what’s important and ignore distractions.
  • You won’t waste time sorting through hundreds of messages in your inbox.
  • An empty inbox can also look impressive to others if you are sharing your computer screen.


Cons of Inbox Zero

However, there are also some downsides to be aware of:

  • It can be difficult to achieve, and you may find yourself constantly checking your email throughout the day.
  • There is a risk that you will become obsessed with an empty inbox, which could be counter-productive.
  • Some people are simply more comfortable leaving their messages in their inbox so they know what needs to be dealt with. It serves as a reminder.
  • It takes time, intention, and effort to keep your inbox empty.
  • You will need to create a system for keeping your inbox empty. This might mean filing messages into folders, snoozing them until later (if your email client supports snoozing), or deleting them altogether.
  • Your email is one of the most important ways that people can contact you, so you want to make sure that no important messages are lost in the process of achieving an empty inbox.

Inbox zero works for some people, but not others. If an empty inbox is important to you and it helps you get things done, then go ahead with it. But if you find yourself constantly distracted by email even though your inbox is clear, then it’s time to rethink your approach as it’s easy to go overboard with it.