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How to hit inbox zero 2018 style

by Kayla Matthews | January 28, 2018January 28, 2018 10:00 am PST

Remember when you looked forward to getting letters in the mail from relatives, colleagues and friends? People don’t usually associate the same excitement with receiving emails.

In many cases, they sigh wearily and wonder how they can stop the seemingly never-ending influx of unsolicited and expected emails alike.

Perhaps you can relate, and have decided 2018 is the year you finally get to inbox zero and make it your new norm. The advice below could help you succeed.

1. Use an AI-based inbox assistant

Not so long ago, it was necessary to put conscious effort into managing your inbox.

That’s still required in some cases, but smart inbox assistants that use artificial intelligence to learn your habits could become indispensable for making sure you don’t overlook important emails. They can also automatically put non-essential emails in dedicated folders, allowing you to easily access them later.

Astro and SaneBox are two possibilities. The longer you use them, the easier it should be to start making an obvious dent in your inbox.

2. Delete messages in bulk

One thing that’s potentially stopping you from even trying to get to inbox zero is the number of messages to sift through before reaching the ultimate milestone.

Like many people, you may have had good intentions to stay on top of emails. However, life quickly gets in the way, and as your task list grows, clearing emails out of your inbox is no longer a priority.

Plus, the repetitive clicking required for powering through it and clearing out hundreds of emails in a single sitting is daunting in itself.

However, an app called Mailstrom groups messages in your inbox into categories. Then, you can click into one and easily determine whether the emails inside demand your attention, or if it’s appropriate to just delete them.

Also, Mailstrom has a one-click feature that blocks material from certain senders. That means if a few repeat offenders regularly send a few emails per day or several per week, it’s easy to stop them from prolonging your annoyance.

Similarly, there’s a capability that removes you from irrelevant or undesirable mailing lists that could be clogging up your inbox.

3. Take a proactive approach to work emails

Sometimes, the quest to achieve inbox zero involves encouraging others to change their behavior. Specifically, remind them you’re available through other methods and urge them to use those, instead of consistently viewing email as the only way to get in touch. You can do that by setting up an auto-response message that includes your phone number.

There are also third-party service options that automatically call the email sender to reduce wait time and improve customer satisfaction. Taking this approach is especially useful if you work for a company that uses a lot of forms to collect data from customers.

Just like it’s important to stay on top of customer service queries coming from social media, customers who email you want a fast reply, too.

4. Filter by contacts, not content

Although it may not seem like it based on the number of emails you receive in a typical day, people are notorious for talking about several things within single emails.

So, even though you get a message with a subject line that reads “Tomorrow’s presentation,” the individual who sends it to you might also bring up your company’s new time-off policy, the threat of inclement weather tomorrow and the fact that he or she is leaving work an hour early next Friday.

Even though the person does mention a presentation happening tomorrow, they cover other topics, as well. Therefore, the varied nature of the content might make it hard to decide if you can delete a message or need to keep it.

Fortunately, an appropriately named app called InboxZero depends on something other than the topical sorting methods used by some other tools.

It categorizes emails by the people who sent them. Additionally, the app keeps all messages from companies separate from the rest.

This app enables browsing through the emails in your inbox quickly because it shows the essential parts of messages. Then, you don’t necessarily have to open one and read the whole thing before deciding whether it’s worth keeping or not.

A crucial thing to remember is that reaching inbox zero is a process.

You probably won’t achieve it overnight.

Luckily, the tools and tricks above move you closer to the goal, and they’re useful for maintenance that prevents an overloaded inbox from happening again.


Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer and tech blogger, talking about connected devices and smart tech on websites like MakeUseOf, VentureBeat, Motherboard and...