How to Get to Inbox Zero

So many of us are after the illustrious “inbox zero,” hoping to someday wake up to an inbox with no new messages to distract us from important tasks or projects — or, at least, be able to end the day with the same. Google has provided Gmail users will several tools to help achieve the goal, and combined with the Gmail plugin ActiveInbox, the theory of inbox zero can be less a dream and more of a reality.

ActiveInbox, formerly GTDInbox and GTDGmail, faciliates the “GTD” and inbox zero theories with Gmail Folders to help you manage your Gmail. The plugin is available for Chrome and Firefox, and has been helping professionals with email overload since 2006. The idea behind inbox zero is not just to clear the clutter, but to set it as a goal so you can know everything that goes into your inbox by processing it, stop avoiding emails, and stop worrying about email and actually get things done. ActiveInbox accomplishes these ideas by setting up a system that forces you to either act on the email, such as by replying or delegating the email, acting later on the email, or assigning the email prioritization, or do nothing with the email by deleting it, sending the email to spam, or archiving it.

Get to inbox zero with ActiveInboxActiveInbox is intuitive to use and turns your emails into a task list. Simply manage emails within the conversation in Gmail, choosing whether you need to take action on the email, whether you’re waiting on someone else, or you don’t know what to do with the conversation (but you need to get back to it someday). You can also add conversations to projects, or choose whether to finish the email (which removes all statuses and deadlines and archives the email) or move on to the next email. Using ActiveInbox for one day won’t solve your Gmail inbox woes, but using it to manage projects and email threads from start to finish can make a big dent — and impact — on your workflow.

One thing to note is that ActiveInbox takes advantage of Gmail’s labels, which are a part of other tools Gmail offers its users to manage and control inbox flow. ActiveInbox recommends using filters in tandem with ActiveInbox to filter out announcements. Just like using ActiveInbox for one day won’t solve your problems, using filters can take time — even weeks — to stop the unnecessary noise from hitting your inbox. Before you check announcements in bulk from all those online retailers and other mailing lists, consider moving each to folders. You may want to send some directly to deletion, but consider filtering some emails to folders that you can visit at your convenience.

Using ActiveInbox is a great way to help you achieve the goal of inbox zero. What are some of your tips to clearing out the unnecessary clutter in your inbox? Let us know in the comments.