Inbox Zero | Mechanics' Institute

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Inbox Zero

This class covers the concept of Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero email management system, including theory, guidelines, and practices to help attendees use email effectively without allowing this communication tool to take up more of their time and attention than they'd like it to.


Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero Resources


Applying Inbox Rules


Gmail: using labels & filters


Outlook: inbox rules


Yahoo: using filters & rules


iCloud: setting up filters


Thunderbird: organizing emails


Apps to Consider

Mailstrom batches emails so you can deal with them as a group rather than one by one.

Taper allows only five emails at a time into your inbox—emails that don’t get through are held until you’ve handled the new mail. You can set VIP designations for specific senders that should always get through first.

Inbox Pause is a gmail tool that puts incoming email into a holding location until you’re ready to tackle it; you can also set automatic messages to let senders know you’re away from your inbox.

SmallCubed is a tool that helps you organize, process, and monitor your email.

Boomerang is a gmail tool allowing you to schedule when you send and receive email messages—moves emails out of your inbox but lets you set notices for keeping track of follow-ups and sending email at specific times.

Mail Pilot is in development for its second iteration, and will let you set up reminders and add emails to lists which encourages you to use email like a to-do list. It basically automates the Inbox Zero concept.

Unroll me lets you see what email subscription lists you’re on and unsubscribe from the emails you don’t want with one click.


Articles and Videos About Email


Facts about email, from research company Radicati


“Zero Dark Inbox”, Silvia Killingsworth, The New Yorker


“Battling My Daemons”, Chris Kirk, Slate


“Inbox Zero vs. Inbox 5000: A Unified Theory”, Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic


“Constantly Checking Your Email Puts Your Needs Behind Everyone Else’s”, Adam Dachis, Lifehacker


“Managing Distraction: How and Why to Ignore Your Inbox”, Stephanie Losee, Forbes


“Email Is Not Broken; We Are”, Joshua Lyman, Lifehacker


“The Ultimate Way To Get To Inbox Zero”, Mike Vardy, Lifehack


Video: “Email Is Ruining Us: A Brilliant Solution”, James Hamblin, The Atlantic


“In Two Weeks, I Went From 23,768 Emails in My Inbox to Zero. Here’s How,” Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post


“5 Tricks to Finally Achieve Inbox Zero”,  Zoe Fox, Mashable