I realise in these times of global pandemics, toilet paper shortages and reality tv presidents that most people are not worried about the state of their inbox. But I am. And, in an effort to not talk about corona, a few days ago I was lecturing someone instead about how they have too many email notifications. I am insufferable. 

I am an inbox zero gal. 

It’s not that hard, really, unless you’re an actually famous person, to inbox zero. And if you’re actually famous you probably have an assistant or something. 

This is my inbox: 

It nearly always looks like this. Because of the measures I take outlined in my previous post on the subject, but the TL;DR version is to filter the shit out of everything. 

So as a slight update to that post, here’s my organization system: 

Books are notifications from my library that books are available, as well as the two discounted ebooks mailing lists I subscribe to. These emails are filtered in as already read, so the label actually never shows up in my Gmail. 

News Alerts are all of the press releases, work-related newsletters, Google alerts, etc that I receive. Those come in as unread and so that label moves up in the left-hand list and becomes bold, so you know there’s new messages. 

Newsletters are exactly what they sound like. That’s where all my corona updates from every company I’ve given my email address go. Essentially anything non-work related. These also come in as unread and I read them when I have time. 

Shopping is for any and all online shopping. I don’t want the updates from ASOS tracking my packing showing up in my inbox. These also come in as unread and I check them when I have time. 

To Do is where I stick all of my emails that need follow up or that I am waiting for something on. I try to do anything that takes less than five minutes immediately. For longer things, I generally respond to say “I’ll get this to you on Tuesday.” I put it on my to do, but sometimes this saves me the hassle of looking up the original email. Nothing is automatically filtered here, it’s just where I stick stuff that I’m still working on. 

Writing is the label for anything fiction related writing. These also come in as unread and I check them when I have time. 

Between heavily filtering stuff and aggressively unsubscribing to things, nearly everything that hits my inbox is something I want to read and actually need to deal with in a timely manner. It’s not stressful and it’s not annoying. And once you put in the upfront work, it’s pretty easy to maintain.