As entrepreneurs and busy professionals, we live and breathe by our email inboxes. And like any other place we live in, it can get messy and chaotic when things start getting busy.

That’s why having an email management strategy is essential. Not only does it help you minimize the risk of letting something slip through the cracks, but it also helps you stay on top of your inbox — which can ultimately help you keep a clear mind.


Do you find yourself cringeing when you glance at someone else’s email inbox and they have 68,413 unread emails? Yeah — that’s the opposite of Inbox Zero.

“Inbox Zero” is an email management strategy where the ultimate goal is for your inbox to display zero unopened emails. In other words — everything that has come into your email has been dealt with. Since your inbox is often taking up a lot of your mental space, keeping it at zero will allow you to be more productive and focused.


The first thing we need to establish is the following rule: you should not look at your emails more than 3 times per day and these three specific times should be a set part of your schedule.

You can either set up three daily alarms to remind yourself to check emails at specific times throughout your day or you can block three time slots in your calendar to go through your emails. For example: first thing in the morning (6 AM), after lunch (1 PM), and before you end your work day (5 PM).

It’s important that you only look at your emails during these allocated time slots. We recommend you turn off your push notifications so that you avoid being tempted to look at your emails at some point of time beyond your established time slots, as this can seriously disrupt your focus and flow.

Here are the four different actions you should take when looking at your emails to reach inbox zero:


First, you should go through your inbox and immediately delete any emails that are spam and marketing. This also includes any emails you don’t need to refer to again as they don’t hold any value for you. This should clear out a big chunk of your unread emails.


Second, you should sort out the remaining emails based on what you can address right now and which emails you are dependent on someone or something to be able to answer back to. You can either create a few folders to help organize these emails or you can flag the emails with a specific color code.

A good rule of thumb is: if it will take less than 5 minutes to respond, do it right away. If it will take longer than 5 minutes, flag it for later and add it to your to-do list.


There may be some emails that you just can’t help with. Identify these and delegate them to someone who can be more helpful than you for the person who has a question and/or is asking for help.

4. DO

Lastly, the remaining emails in your inbox should be the ones that require direct action from you: a response! Be mindful of how much time you are spending on each email as the point of this email management system is to save you time.


It’s simple: keep up this process daily and you should be able to keep your inbox at zero.

The key to being productive at work is simple; stop trying to manage your time. Instead, focus on managing yourself and the actions you take and it will make a world of a difference.