Email management can literally consume your day. Messages continue to mount and remind you of all the things you want to be doing (I’d love to take advantage of that sale at my favorite store) and should be doing (I need to pay Billy’s camp deposit). As soon as you deal with one, ten more seem to follow, and the number of unread emails you have in your inbox rises quickly into the four to five digit range. It’s overwhelming and the ultimate definition of digital clutter. You could delete it all and start anew, but you’d probably lose some important stuff in the process. Instead develop a few good practices to lighten the load and see if some of these recommended tools are right for you.

Best Practices for Inbox Zero


  • Be Clear – Keep your emails to 3 sentences or less otherwise choose another communication method to convey your message (phone call, scheduled meeting, etc.)
  • Use the Subject Line To Convey Your Message – If you just need to give a one sentence answer, put it in the subject line followed by EOM (end of message) or NNTR (no need to respond).
  • Send Less, Get Less – Think twice before you cc or bcc someone.
  • 321Zero Method –  by Kevin Kruse. You won’t get through all your email in 21 minutes, but it will make you aware to keep your answers short and stop you from clicking down the rabbit hole of internet links.
    • Schedule 3 times a day to process your email (morning, noon, night),
    • Set the timer on your phone for 21 minutes,
    • Try to get to inbox zero in that time.


– 21st century technology at its best. Sanebox learns what emails are important to you and which ones are not. Features include:

  • SaneBlackHole Folder – allows you to drag an email into the folder and never hear from that sender again (it goes straight to trash).
  • Save For Later – Save an email to deal with at a later time in a separate folder. The message comes back into your inbox only when you’re ready to deal with it.
  • Get Notified To Follow-up – Want to be sure to follow-up with someone if they have not responded to your message by a certain date? SaneBox will notify you, so you don’t forget.
  • Automatically Save Attachments to Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Evernote, or OneDrive – No more searching for attachments within your inbox.

– Rather than individually unsubscribing from all the spam and junk mail you no longer wish to receive, can do it for you much more efficiently. It works with both gmail and yahoo accounts. You simply give access to your email and you can either choose its unsubscribe feature that gives you a Rollup (digest) of your subscriptions or just continue with only your active subscriptions arriving in your inbox (not as efficient). With a few clicks of a “+” or “-” you’ll be on your way to a less cluttered inbox, and closer to Inbox Zero.


– Another program that automatically sorts your messages into folders so you can focus on what is important to you (currently it only works with Gmail, Yahoo, and Aol mail). Once you sign up it scans your inbox and sorts all your messages into folders like, “finance”, “shopping”, “travel”, “social media”, etc. You can still review the automatic assignments and individually make changes if you need to, but it’s much more efficient then having to review individual emails each time you open your inbox. See OtherInbox in action here.

Canned Responses

– Many of the emails I receive require the same response, e.g. an initial query from a prospect asking how the organizing process works, someone needing my address, etc. As a Microsoft Outlook user I use a feature called “Quick Parts” (in Gmail it’s called Canned Responses”) to easily populate a message with a pre-planned response that I then send as is or customize as needed. This saves a ton of time and results in fewer messages lingering in my inbox waiting for me to respond.


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