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Alec from Baxter

Aug 4, 2023

Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann - Practical Tips

Learn valuable tips from Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero method to revolutionize your email management, boost productivity, and regain control of your inbox.

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Since 1971 when the first email was sent, our inboxes have become flooded with messages. In 2007, an American writer, speaker and productivity expert, Merlin Mann, gave a  Google Tech Talk titled "Inbox Zero." In the talk, he discussed his methodology for managing email and how it can help individuals regain control over their digital communication, introducing the concept of ‘Inbox Zero’. Contrary to what the name might suggest, the goal is not to have zero emails but rather to ensure that all emails are appropriately dealt with and organized, leaving you with a clear and clutter-free inbox. We break down its 5 key principles with practical tips on how to implement them in daily life.

Achieving Inbox Zero


The 5 Core Principles of Inbox Zero

1. Process Emails Immediately

Instead of allowing emails to accumulate in your inbox, make a habit of processing them as soon as you open them. Aim to handle each email only once and decide on the appropriate action – reply, delegate, archive, or delete.


2. Prioritize and Take Action

Not all emails are equal in importance. Learn to prioritize emails based on their urgency and relevance. Respond promptly to urgent messages and consider using the "two-minute rule" – if a task can be done in under two minutes, do it right away.


3. Organize with Labels and Folders

Use labels, folders, or categories to organize your emails effectively. Create a logical system that suits your workflow and enables you to locate specific emails quickly when needed. In Gmail, use Baxter’s native labels or create your own labels, for example for a store or sales category To make a custom label:

  • Go to your Baxter’s dashboard and click on Labels
  • Next to Custom Labels choose Add New Label
  • Specify the labels’ name and addresses to be nested under


4. Unsubscribe and Reduce Clutter

Be mindful of the subscriptions and newsletters you sign up for. Unsubscribe from unnecessary email lists to reduce inbox clutter. A clutter-free inbox allows you to focus on the essential emails without distractions. Use Baxter’s bulk Unsubscribe option to remove yourself from unwanted mailing lists or automatically trash/move to spam incoming email from select senders or whole domains.To do so:

  • Select an email from a newsletter you no longer want to be subscribed to
  • Click Unsubscribe on the top menu


5. Set Specific Email Times

Constantly checking and responding to emails throughout the day can disrupt your workflow and hinder productivity. Instead, allocate specific times for checking and processing emails, and resist the urge to constantly peek at your inbox.

inbox zero


Tips To Implement Inbox Zero Successfully

  • Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Familiarize yourself with keyboard shortcuts for your email client. Learning these shortcuts can significantly speed up your email processing and navigation.

  • Batch Similar Tasks

Group similar tasks together to streamline your workflow. For example, dedicate specific time slots to respond to emails, make phone calls, or work on specific projects.

  • Limit Email Attachments

Large attachments can consume storage space and slow down email processing. Instead of attaching files directly, consider using cloud storage services and share links to the files.

  • Implement the 4 D's

When processing emails, follow the four D's – Do, Delegate, Defer, and Delete. Determine the appropriate action for each email promptly.

Remember that Inbox Zero is not about striving for a completely empty inbox at all times; rather, it's about developing habits that lead to efficient email management and reduce the stress associated with an overflowing inbox.



  1. Q: What is Inbox Zero, and who developed it?

A: Inbox Zero is an email management method created by productivity expert Merlin Mann.

  1. Q: What are the core principles of Inbox Zero?

A: The core principles of Inbox Zero are processing emails immediately, prioritizing tasks, organizing with labels, reducing clutter, and setting specific email times.

  1. Q: How can I implement Inbox Zero effectively?

A: Implement Inbox Zero by creating custom filters, using keyboard shortcuts, batching similar tasks, limiting email attachments, and following the 4 D's (Do, Delegate, Defer, and Delete) when processing emails.

  1. Q: What is the point of Inbox Zero?

A: The goal of Inbox Zero is not to have zero emails in the inbox but to process and organize emails efficiently, leaving you with a clutter-free and manageable inbox.

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