A personal goal since I first read of the concept is to one day achieve Inbox Zero across all my email accounts, rss feeds, mail pile, and paper inbox. I know. But just because I’ve let it get so bad, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Now that I could reward myself with a Nerd Merit Badge for successful completion of this as-so-far unattainable concept, I’m trying again.

In the past few weeks, I’ve made progress. Why had it gotten so bad? I’m the type of person that if I don’t see it, or that if I don’t see that I have to do it, chances are something else will grab my magpie attention and get done instead. To combat this “ooh shiney” problem, I did what I did years ago when my email was manageable. I added the task into my routine and my to-do list so I see that I have to do it. This has worked pretty well. I work on one different inbox each day.

I’ve set up a pile of new filters, I unsubscribed from a bunch of crud I’d not read in over A YEAR (and filtering for those messages and deleting them all cleared up a good 1,000 or so…. ). I’m just plugging away for five minutes at a time. Right now my most problematic inbox has only 912 messages in it. A week ago, it had around 3,000. I’m quite ruthless in applying a revised two minute rule to these emails. If I haven’t thought about them for two minutes in the past few months and don’t feel I’ve missed them, they’re gone. Not just filtered elsewhere for processing when I have time. Gone.

It feels great.

Reader interactions

3 Replies to “zero”

  1. Congrats on cutting back on the assorted junk mails. I’ve been working on that same thing for the last few months. One thing that made a HUGE difference was to just cancel a whole bunch of email accounts (for assorted websites) and just consolidate. Then, like you, also unsubscribed to everything I could.
    Now, to work on the paper in box on my work desk…Is there a way to unsubscribe from coworkers???

  2. I’ve been trying, really I have. That NYTimes article yesterday inspired me to at least get my “unread in inbox” count to zero. I did most of it in bulk – if something was over a year old (or, um, two or three years), it didn’t need to be in my inbox. period. Well, actually, I retained one thread from you (you’ll never guess what).

    There’s still almost 500 messages in my Gmail inbox, all of them marked “read,” msot of which I could just archive, but I know there are a few in there I will want to label, so I am working through slowly.

    Still, very nice to look at Gmail – Inbox – (2) instead of Gmail – Inbox – (281).

    1. There was a NYT article on this yesterday? Hah. I had no idea. I’m about 3-5 days behind in my NYT reading. If it’s super important that I should know, E tells me.

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