Zero inbox is a mentality that I’ve picked up in the last year and have applied with great success. For every email you open you have three choices. You can either delete, wait, or archive. Let’s look at each of these closely.
Try to find a reason to delete each email that comes through. Does it have future value? Is this information you really need? For personal emails l consider the value for future reference and think twice before deleting it. If I believe it will be important to remember that conversation later it doesn’t get trashed. I also use my email for sending myself personal information that I want to remember later (which then gets archived). But for anything else it’s game on. If I don’t need it, it’s gone.
Emails that are not archived or deleted stay in my inbox waiting for an action. Essentially they become todos. Since I turn to email regularly this puts my todos where they can’t be ignored. I also send texts to my email when I’m on the road with todos since I don’t have a smartphone. This has made a big difference in terms of me getting things done and not forgetting important details.
If you’re email doesn’t qualify for being deleted, then archive it. Gmail makes this easy with the archive button. I have also activated a Google labs option with a “send to archive button” every time I reply to an email. Typically if I take the time to reply to an email then I consider it archive worthy; I may need to rethink this in the future though.