When is Inbox Zero Not The Answer?

inbox zero

The debate around whether inbox zero has been furiously contested for years. In this article we discuss where the concept came from and what alternatives are out there.

What is inbox zero?

‘Inbox Zero’ is a philosophy that encourages email users to keep their inbox empty. The term was first coined by Merlin Mann back in 2007 in his Google TechTalk. He noted that for any email, the user should decide on one of five key actions:

  • Delete
  • Delegate 
  • Respond
  • Defer
  • Do

Insert media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UjeTMb3Yk

The method is tried and tested and for many people, it works. But it’s not fool proof.

When is inbox zero not the answer?

Whilst keeping your inbox clear can feel liberating. The methodology can create new challenges. Often users find that they need to find a deleted or filed email. If this is months, or even years after the email was received, this can be challenging.

In this case, you need a really good search engine to try and find your email. Otherwise you are left trying to remember what filing system you used. Or worse still, having to recreate archived backups of your inbox. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

How better indexing can help?

The alternative to actioning emails in your inbox is to do the opposite. Nothing. 

There is an argument that obsessing over inbox zero actually wastes time rather than saving it. As the primary method of communication, our inboxes can be a distraction. The limitless spam and newsletters being just one.

But often the biggest time waster is finding emails. Various different ways of searching emails have been established. But frequently they still fail to highlight what you need. In February 2020, Google updated its own search functionality but at the moment this is only available to G-Suite users. 

The answer to improved email searching lies in better email indexing. On average we ‘search’ or try to locate 10 historic emails a day. Each time this can take 30 seconds or more. Which means a whopping 16 hours (or two working days) a year spent looking for emails. 

How can Threads help?

Threads stores all your digital communications in one intuitive dashboard. It intelligently indexes any digital message (including emails and phone calls) to enable you to search and filter your data by company, contact name or project. 

Ready to learn how Threads can improve your productivity?

Contact the team at Threads today and discover what Threads can do for you.