inbox 0 in corporate email

In this post I’m introducing the method to handle lots of emails. This method helps me to reduce stress according to having/ viewing many messages.

Is cluttered e-mail okay for you? If so, that’s great. I personally though feel quite overwhelmed while having a lot on my plate at least visually. I’d rather keep it clean since the beginning than having that unsorted mess of hundreds of e-mails. Even if it’s marked as “read”.

So what is it all about?

You handle the email as soon as you go through your inbox content. There are a few activities you can (should) do for each email to spend the least time possible to handle it all. After the process, you see the beautiful picture like above.

How to do that?

It might be stressful at first but you’ll be more peaceful after a while:

  • Go through each mail and decide whether you need to:
    1. trash
    2. save for reference
    3. reply

You don’t need more options. Believe me.

The messages you’re not interested with, not necessary for your work etc. you go ahead and trash.

The second: use the “Archive” option in your mail client. You can also create folders per project in your mail client and file it to the corresponding place. I have folders for internal tasks and for client-related information. I’ve got also not a work-related folder like initiatives. Eg. the events organized in the company needs some emails and those are going to this category.

The reply is tricky – when you reply it stays in your inbox. Then you can also file or archive the message. You’ll get a reply to your inbox so don’t worry about it.

Every mail you archive stays in your mailbox. The messages are only hidden so you don’t have to take action on them more than it’s necessary.

But I don’t have archive option in my company’s mail

Easy fix for that: create folder “Archive” and move emails to this folder 🙂 Isn’t it so simple?

I have billions of emails already.

I get that, in my private emails I’m somewhere there also. But you can spend 5 minutes a day or 25 minutes a week (if you have access to your work email from home). You can also go through the oldest 10-20 emails. It’s all up to what works best for you.

Why the oldest you may ask? Because it would be easier to make a decision if you need the email or not.

You may also go by categories if you have them somehow categorized already. In my company, there is a rule that we add a tag to messages, especially those not work-related. Eg. [spam] represents all random messages that might disturb some people at their work. I’ve got a rule for them in my client to move it to a spam folder and make as “read”. I’m going there around once a week and see if there’s something interesting or to laugh a bit 🙂


  1. clean it up every day (or 2-3 times a day, depending on how much emails you get)
  2. turn off notification, check your email periodically instead.

As always, you don’t have to do this. It works for me, it might work for you but you’re your own person, maybe you find your way through many emails in your inbox.


Natalie 🙂


  1. I think that the biggest killer of this system are emails that are difficult to respond to:

    * job offers from companies we respect but don’t have a time to answer every day,
    * invitations that are not really so interesting to us but need some tactful response,
    * emails asking for decisions that need some research or work before responding.

    This said, I like this workflow too. And if someone is committed to using it, I know that I can rely that this person will not forget about email that requires action, which is great 🙂

    1. Great input! I totally agree. Well emails that I don’t have time to respond and I must do so stays in my inbox unread until I find some time. I’m trying to do it ASAP though.
      I’m deleting as much as I can anyway 😉

  2. I have a different system for sorting my incoming mail: most goes through automatic Outlook rules instantly as they come, some I move manually. About 90% ends up in other folders than Inbox. And the rest that stays doesn’t bother me as long as it’s read or marked as read – I don’t go back to those (unless I search for something specific from the past).
    Those which require a repsonse (or other action) I mark with an AR (“Action Required”) flag and a priority color. If the time of action is specified I sometimes add a reminder. Those ARs are instantly aggregated in an Outlook search folder – I check it to determine my next action whenever I finish a task or get a reminder.

    1. If it works for you that’s great!

      I’m using Nozbe for things that require action. But I’ll write on it more someday.

      I think the core is to find your own way, but you can always get inspired from other’s systems and solutions, and include some of them into your own life 🙂

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