small-business smb-productivity

How to Reach Inbox Zero & Spark Joy

My best friend did it. She was on top of her game and never let an email fall into the dark tunnel of her email inbox. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a clean inbox. Just imagining it made me feel lighter and less stressed. I called to ask her how she did it. I borrowed some of her ideas, and I discovered other pro tips on my personal journey to inbox zero.  

Welcome to a life where you do not need to scroll, let alone click, to see the bottom of your inbox.  

Ten years ago, I decided that I had no interest in setting a new year’s resolution about losing weight or reading a book a week. I was ready to embark on a lifestyle change that would change my work and personal life. I was pumped to knock out a resolution that I had never heard of before.  

Call It a Marathon. Call It a Hackathon. Whatever You Do, Make a Massive Dent.  

You may want to start with one marathon day of decluttering. Marie Kondo it. Dump all those emails and only keep ones that “spark joy” (i.e. ones that you will need later.)  

  • Once you are left with emails that you want to save, you can move them into folders, label or filter them depending on what email platform you are using.  
  • Mass delete newsletters or marketing emails that should really have always been marked as junk or spam. You can search by email address to knock those ones out! (I appreciate that your inbox may have started with  

It is much easier to reach inbox zero with personal email. Almost everything is either need or delete, with few in between, usually just my travel info, and even that has a folder. Work mails have more complexities so I don’t strive for daily inbox zero, not always practical, but I do aim for Monday morning inbox zero. I am a Monday issue person, I don’t need work to ruin my weekend. Mail rules for me are key, my inbox doesn’t need to see who accepted my meetings, those go direct to a folder. Client messages get replied to then put in their folder, but held out until I reply so I don’t forget.

keith brooks, CEO of B2B whisperer

Automate When Possible 

  • Set up filters if you have Gmail or folders if you are an Outlooker. You may want emails to come in so that you can stay updated about your clients or vendors, but you don’t need everything to remain in your inbox. Don’t believe me? Here are reasons and tops to avoid using your inbox as a filing cabinet. Stay organized!  
  • There are services that help you automate your unsubscribing. I used UnrollMe which allows you to choose one of three options with one click. You can choose to keep the emails in your inbox, unsubscribe, or to add the subscription to a daily round up of your quasi-junk mail.    
  • Prepare template language for common questions. Odds are you have a lot of the same conversations/similar questions. Don’t reinvent the wheel with each email notification. You may be able to automate this depending on what platforms you use at work. Either way, save template language and either use a tool to implement an automated response or go old school and copy and paste the language. You can edit the language to personalize. 
Cleaning maid at desk

Timing Is Everything 

  • Daily Goal: Address emails that fall through the cracks by setting a daily goal of 5 emails or 5 minutes solely allocated for unsubscribing and filtering or foldering.  
  • Put email scheduling tools to work: Check out your options to schedule emails to be sent later or to bounce back into your inbox at a certain time or if they remain unanswered for a specific time. I’m a Boomerang fan which works for Outlook and Gmail. This is a gamechanger once you’ve fallen head over heels for your clean inbox.  
  • Schedule no disturb time. You can use tools or impressive restraint to steer clear of your inbox. You love a clean inbox, but you should not let it control your processes and time. 

“Most of our customers and partners unanswered emails, are stuck in our Inbox because we don’t have all the answers, and we depend on product, legal and contract teams to help us. Forwarding these emails and expecting answers doesn’t work, we need a more collaborative way to quickly answer emails..” 

Yaacov cohen , founder & CEO of harmon.ie & Collabria
  • Respond to emails within one workday. The longer the email remains in your inbox, the easier it becomes to procrastinate and delay answering it or dealing with the issue that it encapsulates. Just do it! Schedule in email time. Set aside time to handle all those emails. Sort out which ones you need to handle, which items can be delegated, and which ones can go in the trash!