Personal Routines/Strategies for getting in Inboxes to ZERO


Hey guys. David says that he get's his inboxes zero'ed out every 24-48 hours, so that his backlog does not get too large. It would be awesome to have a thread here where everyone can post their own personal methods for getting their inboxes (including email, physical inbox, digital inbox etc) empty.

Personally, I don't like rigid systems and habits, so my personal routine is to just take 30 minutes a day, at anytime during the day, but definitely at some point during the day, and I just go through all my inboxes (including emails) and clarify and organise as much of it as I can. Sometimes it takes more than 30 minutes and thats okay. But I just tell myself any day that I can't be bothered doing it 'at least do 30 minutes and make a dent in it'.

I was considering experimenting with just emptying my inbox throughout the day on my phone, in the same way that most people are continually emptying their text/whatsapp inbox as they reply to people messaging them all day. Would love to hear if anyone has experience with this method, or any others!

My own method is working okay for me just now but I feel like it could be better and I would love to read some more from you guys.


With regards to they physical inbasket I have this rule, if I take one piece out it is not allowed to go back. So, I take one piece at a time and force myself to go through with it.

Thais Godhino

GTD Connect
It all depends. I use to choose based on my three-fold nature of work. I've tried to have this clarifying time scheduled at my calendar, but it didn't work for me. So, based on another activities on that same day, I choose what to do next (that can be empty my inbox). I really like to empty my inbox in a daily basis, but sometimes I'm travelling or delivering a training all day long, so I do in the very next morning.


I don't always get all inboxes to zero every day although I try. Work as it appears sometimes precludes that. I do process all notes that I write in the night first thing in the morning or I often can't read my own nighttime handwriting. E-mail I process while I am drinking coffee after I check weather and my lists. Paper mail processed to remove junk when I bring it inside. paper inbox processed a bit during the day, or at lunch or before chores.


I usually deal with my work Inbox by:

- Reading the email.
- If an email is going to call for an action, I mark it Unread again.
- If an email is going to call for an action and it took me any time to figure out what that action is, then instead of marking it Unread, I forward it to myself with a changed subject line that reflects the action.
- If an email needs a quick response, I respond. The definition of "needs a quick response" is based on my judgement, not the sender's judgement.
- When I've read everything, I move all of the Unread emails and forwarded-to-myself emails to a Convert to Actions folder.
- I drag everything else to the folder containing all of the email for the year.
- Inbox is now zero.

This takes a few minutes a day. I realize that this reflects a relatively small email load--though it's relatively small partly, though certainly not entirely, because a variety of junky or generic notification emails are auto-filtered to other folders as I arrive.

Then at some other time I:

- Go through the Convert to Actions folder and convert most of those emails to tasks. Some of those tasks may contain a pointer back to the email. ("See email from Joe 12/4/16")
- Drag those emails into the folder containing all of the email for the year.

" tasks" is part of a work process that is diverging more and more from classic GTD and becoming more and more Kanban plus backlog lists, so I won't describe it, but I handled my email this way when I was doing fairly classic GTD.