Some of you may have noticed. Recently we launched MailFred – a small helper for GMail – in public beta. MailFred is supposed to increase my – and potentially your – personal productivity.

There is one simply reason we built MailFred: We love the concept of Inbox Zero. And MailFred does help achieve just that. So we are really scratching our own itch.

Inbox Zero is a term coined by Merlin Mann, founder of 43folders. The basic idea is to have your inbox to “zero” most of the time (at the end of the day or at least at the end of the week). That’s not “Zero mails unread”, that’s “Zero mails I need to do something about (right now)”.

Every mail is an “action” item. Once a mail is opened/read there are five “purposeful” actions: delete, delegate, respond, defer, do. Choose at least one.

Image source: Slideshare presentation by Merlin Mann (see below).

The implications of this approach are simple yet powerful. Acting directly on an email and doing the next step means that

  1. The amount of how often a mail is touched is drastically reduced.
  2. Clutter is removed from the inbox.
  3. Mails are out of your head because they are where they belong. It just feels better, doesn’t it?

To get a basic idea of the concept check out the slide show from Merlin Mann:

If you have more time you can also watch this video with a presentation at Google from 2007.

What do you think? Do you use inbox zero? Why, why not?

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7 Responses to Why the concept of Inbox Zero is great

  1. I just blogged: Why the concept of Inbox Zero is great

  2. @dankorebec says:

    Why the concept of Inbox Zero is great Some of you may have noticed. Recently we launched MailFred  – a small helpe

  3. @nicozorn says:

    Why the concept of Inbox Zero is great via @manuelkoelman

  4. big fan of inbox zero and just installed mailfred, first reminder scheduled for tomorrow morning. via @manuelkoelman

  5. I’m a big fan of Inbox Zero and hast achieved it for the last few days. Even though Inbox Zero is great, you need to also be cautious that you don’t fall into the trap that because you’re so focused on getting to Zero that you (ironically) obsess about mails and check your inbox continuously in order to clear it of any new mails!

    • Manuel says:

      Yes, you are absolutely right. One of the most efficient ways of answering mails is probably 1-2 times per day. Nevertheless, this depends to a certain extend on your job. More checks might be necessary if “real-time” is important (in your job) and/or you are expected to answer quickly (culture).

      With regards to inbox zero: It would probably be great to reach inbox zero once per day.

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