Like a crystal ball, your email inbox count can tell me a lot about you as a person… (oh how I wish that was true). Your inbox number can really only tell me how many emails you do (or don’t) have in your email inbox. A lot of emails in your inbox doesn’t necessarily mean you’re disorganized. You might just have the perfect system for navigating through your emails. But I am willing to bet that if you worked from a place of having almost no emails in your inbox you would be more efficient. And here is the FREAKING WHY (i’m yelling because I know you can handle it).

  • Opening up your inbox countless times a day and scrolling through, trying to remember which email is important to answer AND which one isn’t wastes TIME. Lots of it. Especially because you’re in the habit of checking your email over 25 times per/hour (you have got to do something about that — but we will address that in a later post). What’s that? You star things that are important? Or you mark them as unread? Still a time waster. READ ON.
  • Even if you’re system is to star what you need to get back to, the subject line does a terrible job at telling you what lies within. I’ll give you an example; The email subject line says ‘Thank you‘ but the ‘to-do’ inside the email is to create a gift certificate and take it with you to your exercise boot camp on Monday so they can enter it into a raffle. In this scenario, you’re a service provider that wants to garner more business (yay for make-believe). There’s actually a few steps for that particular task and unless they’re written out, you can bet that gift certificate isn’t making it to boot camp class on Monday.
  • The other thing with leaving emails in your inbox; you can’t prioritize them. The ‘to-do’ I mentioned above is time sensitive; but if you’re leaving all your emails in your inbox (and you get a boatload of emails) it’s gonna get pushed to the bottom. Your efforts to star or mark emails as unread ain’t gonna work in this scenario.
  • Having a crap-ton of emails in your inbox is overwhelming. When you get overwhelmed, you lose focus and are more easily distracted. So basically, your inbox full of emails is sucking your will to live.

Okay, I know I came on strong and I have a clear opinion about keeping your inbox neat and tidy. But I do want to hear from you (even if you disagree). Actually, I’d prefer to hear why you don’t keep an empty inbox…


  1. Anna August 26, 2015 at 10:36 am

    There are three sections in my inbox (technically there is a fourth, called “everything else,” but I keep that one empty): unread, important, and starred. They appear in that order. I mark emails that I need to attend to or access again as “important,” and then use labels to further specify (“to do,” “upcoming,” “travel,” etc.). I “star” emails that relate to something fun I want to read/watch/check out, but that are not required or task-related. Once something has been taken care of, I archive it immediately.

    I love this system. I find it super efficient and easy to use and it keeps my inbox feeling tidy and manageable. Rarely if ever am I at full “inbox zero,” but I keep the number fairly small (right now I have 10 emails marked “important” and 6 marked “starred.”) I don’t foresee changing this system any time soon (ever?).

  2. Beth Zeigler August 26, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Hi Anna–Thank you for sharing! First off, I love that you keep your inbox almost clear– BRAVO!! The only thing I might have you think about is that your to-do’s are living in your email inbox which is a prime place for distractions. Each time you’re in there, an email comes in and bam; you are ripe for distractions. That being said, if you only check your email 1-2x a day, then you’re in the clear. Again, your system sounds like it’s working great for you; just something to think about.

  3. BKC September 10, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    I might not be the worst case you’ve ever encountered, but I bet I come close: the little red alert number on my phone on the email icon is…41659.

    Four email addresses. Three personal accounts, ostensibly one for family and important kiddo school stuff, one for coupons (the dumb email address you give at Office Depot or whatever), and one…I can’t remember why I have the third one.

    One email address for work. I check this forty or fifty times a day. I tried “The Secret Weapon” in conjunction with evernote, but I didn’t keep it up. Am not-so-slowly drowning in virtual crap.

  4. Beth Zeigler September 10, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    I will check out The Secret Weapon in the name of efficiency; haven’t heard of that. Yea, with anything, it’s a process– Digital stuff can feel just as heavy so I totally get the feelings you’re having around virtual stuff cluttering up your life. I will be writing more about email/virtual decluttering in the future but just something to think about; moving this to become a priority (decluttering your computer). It’s not the most fun priority BUT once you do feel like you have a handle on everything, it will just feel so much better (and that is worth it’s weight in gold).

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