When I start to nerd out on the latest productivity app I’ve stumbled on people’s eyes usually just glaze over but when I tell people I have reached the holy grail of #inboxzero their eyes pop open wide then begin to flutter in a jealous haze. What is #inboxzero well simply put it’s when you manage to empty the entire inbox of your email client. If you’re like I was for years your inbox has become so inundated that you may have resorted to entirely turning off your mail’s app counter icon or notifications because it’s just too depressing. Honestly any time I’ve ever bragged about being at inbox zero I’ve never met anyone else who claimed to be as well. We’ve gotten so acclimated to the furious pace of incoming mail that we’ve become numb to it and have resorted to workarounds to filter out all the noise so important emails raise to the surface. Most people develop their own methods for keeping track of the most important emails. Personally my strategy was to simply mark every one as read then leave the most important ones marked as unread until it’s been properly dealt with.
My process to #inboxzero began with a now-shuttered app called Mailbox. It started the trend of swiping to archive email or to snooze an email to return to your inbox at a later time or date. It worked exclusively with gmail and Dropbox snagged it up and soon after shut it down. Meanwhile Google created Inbox by Gmail. Its secret sauce, borrowed liberally from Mailbox, is a balanced blend of purposeful swipes and automatic smart filtering that enables any user to easily tame the beast that is most people’s inboxes and keep it tamed. Swipe right archives any email and swiping left snoozes any email until a later time or date of user’s choosing making it quick and painless to dismiss email on the fly. For the bulk of your incoming mail Inbox smart filters will automatically filter out most emails into 6 main categories (purchases, finance, social, updates, forums, and promos). You can archive entire categories or train certain emails to skip your inbox entirely and go straight to your archive. You can go deeper and create your own categories if you like. My favorite feature is the ability to mute any conversation (automatically archive emails from sender) by simply long pressing the option to archive (checkmark).
Inbox makes email meaningful again by filtering out the noise and allowing only those emails that actually merit your attention into your inbox. If you’re a gmail power user and haven’t tried Inbox yet I highly recommend taking it for a test drive.
Other features include the ability to pin important emails, display Google Reminders, Google Now events like trip summaries, and a handy Chrome web extension for sharing or saving web links. Finally Inbox will group emails not assigned to a category together. So for example that weekly newsletter you get might get grouped together with every newsletter from that sender and appear as one email. Selecting it unrolls all the emails in a stack with a summary of the most recent at the top of the stack.
There are other email clients that adopt many of the same features but not many are available across all major platforms like Inbox is. Inbox shines best in Chrome while I primarily use the iOS version. The iOS version, as is to be expected from Google, is pretty stable. In contrast, I also use the Outlook App (which was actually Accompli before Microsoft snatched it up and rebranded it) for my MS accounts and it’s consistently glitchy. In any case, a few hours spent with an app like Inbox can lead you to #inboxzero heaven! What are you waiting for?