Inbox Zero graphic

Inbox Zero: How I Crushed 500 Unread Emails in 22 Minutes

Inbox zero is possible. This is coming from someone who has tried every inbox zero iPhone app and e-mail management hack on the planet; someone who has shed tears reading about unconventional approaches toward email. This has been my struggle! But my struggle is no more thanks to my new e-mail system. Find out what I did in this post! 

I hate e-mail, not because e-mail is bad, but because I cannot seem to ever keep up with it all. I’m being honest here. It all started when my personal e-mail became public during the Hiptics days. I added fuel to the fire by signing up for new tech tools, downloading e-books, and subscribing to hundreds of e-mail newsletters. Whoops.

What I did yesterday changed the game for me. Hopefully it can be helpful for you, too. The only requirement is that you use Gmail.

Step 1: Configure Multiple Inboxes

1. Log-in to Gmail and go to Settings.

Inbox Zero Inbox Settings for Gmail

2. Select the ‘Labs’ tab

Inbox Zero Labs

3. Scroll down and you will see ‘Multiple Inboxes’. Enable that.

Enable Multiple Inboxes to Achieve Inbox Zero

4. Go back up to tabs (where you selected ‘Labs’). Select ‘Inbox’.

5. Make inbox #1 ‘Unread’. Select how many messages to show under Options. I recommend 25 or 50.

Inbox Zero Set-up for Gmail

The result: Now your Gmail inbox will begin with all unread messages. These were what took up the majority of my inbox space. Now you have one sub-divided inbox to go through and batch-task them.

Step 2: Learn these two Gmail keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are easy to use, and will save you a ton of time.

The first one is ‘Archive’. Simply tap ‘e’ on your keyboard to archive the e-mail message you are reading. It will take you to the next Unread e-mail.

(There is really no need to Delete anything from Gmail since it gives you so much space. If you ever get close to maxing out, do a smart search, and get rid of everything from before a specific date. But I digress…)

The second important keyboard shortcut for getting to Inbox Zero is  “next’. Tap ‘j’ on your keyboard.

This is perfect for when you come across a message that you might need to do something more with. Just keep it moving. Now that you have read it, it exists with all your other read messages.

If you are interested in learning more, here is the full collection of Gmail keyboard shortcuts,

That’s it. Using this system, I crushed 500 emails in 22 minutes.

One last thing: You will start seeing patterns of what messages go unread. Rather than go message by message, I started saving even more time by selecting the messages to archive all at once in the inbox home view.

Let me know how it works for you!