I have an obsession with organizing stuff and putting them in categories.
My Gmail is a prime example of this obsession.
I have more than a couple of Gmail accounts and all of them have been neatly organized. Gmail’s inbuilt feature of categorizing email does help with categorization, but I have seen people around who are not very enthused about keeping their inbox clean.
For example, my wife, her inbox is just flooded with emails from all around the world in just one category: Primary! Ouch.
Finding an email of any particular interest in that pile is literally equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack. Not to mention the number of her unread emails which has undoubtedly crossed the 4 digit number.
Not just her, many of my friends have cluttered email accounts. For me, that bold red number in Gmail has to be in single-digit if not zero. I have been like this ever since I started using emails.
Inbox zero was developed by Merlin Mann, a writer, and a broadcaster.
“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your attention, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many messages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” — Merlin Mann
This Inbox Zero philosophy encourages people to achieve mental clarity by removing the clutter from the emails.
Honestly, I had heard the name only a few days ago, which immediately prompted me to write about it. In reality, my inbox always had zero unread mails for ages. Not always though, at times when there is too much work, I don’t pay much attention to it. But I do make sure this does not stay for long.
Is it worth it? Yes totally. At least for me.
Because it has been embedded in my system. I cannot help it. I have to go through every unread mail. I always maintain a clean email account with everything organized. Whenever I need any information it is there in its rightful category.
It’s not that I am unable to function without clearing all unread emails from the account. It is discomforting to me, my mind will keep going back to the pile of emails that need my attention.
Depending on the circumstances I may not reply to each and every email. But clearing the unread count matters to me.
I have been maintaining this habit of removing unread emails for a long time now. It does not require any extra effort from my side. It’s already submerged in my system.
Having said that I never really feel my productivity increases with zero unread emails. I don’t even have my email push notification turned on and I never rush to read any email.
My inbox has absolutely no effect on my life in any manner.
I would say it’s really not about keeping the inbox at zero, it’s more about how you handle your emails. Some people choose to let their email linger around for months, and over time it just grows and becomes too difficult to handle. Going through them then becomes a chore.
So don’t let the dirt settle, instead, rinse and clean it every day.