Mar 22, 2016

Inbox Zero (Myth vs. Reality) #2 - Everybody needs Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero (Myth vs. Reality) #2 - Everybody needs Inbox Zero

The last post in this series "Inbox Zero (Myth vs. Reality) #1 - It means keeping my inbox empty", busted the myth that Inbox Zero means an "empty inbox". This post takes on the next big myth, which is that Inbox Zero is for everybody.


Myth #2: Everybody needs Inbox Zero

Ever since Michael Mann conceived the idea a few years ago, the legend of "Inbox Zero" has swept across the internet, creating both fervent disciples and equally fervent naysayers.

Over the years, Inbox Zero has become firmly entrenched as the ultimate guide to email productivity. Email users have been pushed, cajoled and even shamed into using this concept if they ever wanted to be considered productive. The proponents though forget that not everyone has the same email needs and therefore, not everyone will find Inbox Zero a good fit.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. While the idea of clearing out your inbox seems appealing on paper, in reality very few actually have the time to make this happen.
  2. It requires the mindset that not every email coming into your mailbox needs to be acted upon – some are meant to be responded to, while others get ruthlessly deleted, swept into obscure folders or archived, to never be heard of again. Developing this attitude towards your email, requires a behavioral change, not something that most busy email users care to work on.
  3. Removing or archiving your email signals an 'out of sight, out of mind' response in most users. This can be an uncomfortable feeling to overcome, especially if you indulge in long email conversations and prefer to keep these in your inbox in order to keep an eye on still active threads.
  4. To some the thought of storing away important messages where they could get lost or mis-sorted is just too threatening. Besides, there is the next-to-impossible problem of finding a message that you need from storage, in a hurry.
  5. The most common reason is the misconception that "Inbox Zero" refers to an empty inbox. This leads to users forcing themselves to empty their inbox by end of day, come what may. Unfortunately, this is not a commitment that most busy users with hectic schedules are looking to make, with their time. There are simply more important things to work on besides email and obsessing over a cleared inbox every day, is just not viable.


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