How to Get Your Inbox Down to Zero Emails

Like the rest of you at work, I get bombarded with dozens of emails. However, I learned a very useful inbox management tip from TJ Walia earlier this year. Since then, I’ve been on top of my email game and way less stressed with managing my emails!

Honestly, I cringe every time I hear someone say they have 50+ unread emails, so here are some easy steps and tips for you to live a better work life. The less time you spend managing your inbox, the more time you spend on valuable and meaningful work.

Step 1 – Empty your main Inbox folder

Tip: Delete/archive any emails that are older than 2-3 months (if they are that important, someone else will follow up on it)

Tip: If it’s too much work to sort through your emails, just create a folder labelled “Pre MMM YYYY” (today’s date) and dump everything in there. That way, you don’t need to worry about deleting something that could be important.

Step 2 – Create an “Inbox Other” folder

This folder will collect any emails that are not as important (see Step 5 for details)

Step 3 – Create an “Inbox Waiting” folder

This folder will be for any emails that you need to follow up on (because you’re waiting for someone to respond or something to happen first).

Step 4 – Set up a rule for your main Inbox to only receive emails that include your email in to “To” or “CC” fields

Assume that emails where your name is in the To/CC fields are priority (because you either need to respond directly or it is important for you to be in the loop)

Tip: Specify if there are any VIPs (e.g. your manager, main customers, etc) whose emails should go to your main Inbox

Step 5 – Ensure your rule(s) diverts all other emails to your “Inbox Other” folder or other folders for different topics

Example: If an email is being sent to your team’s distribution list, you can redirect it to your “Team” folder

Tip: Organize your email into the following folders (this is based on my own experience)

Folder NameDescription
for company news emails that are sent company wide
for ERGs/community group emails
Peoplefor any personal emails exchanged with others (e.g. thank you/farewell/congrats)
for emails related to extracurriculars/side or stretch projects
Pay/Expenses/Benefitsfor any emails related to my payslips/expenses/benefits
Learningfor training and development related emails (e.g. courses)
Adhoc/Completedfor any adhoc requests/emails that are one and done
Access/Permissionsfor any emails related to system/report access and permissions
Careerfor anything related to career planning, performance reviews, job alerts, etc…

There you have it… a sneak peek into how I manage my work inbox! Best of luck and feel free to share any of your own tips below.