The Pros and Cons of the Inbox Zero Life

The Pros and Cons of the Inbox Zero Life

Range Govindan
Jun 22, 2011

If you are one of the people that is trying to get to Inbox Zero or that has attained Inbox Zero, you've probably realized that just like any system, Inbox Zero isn't perfect. Inbox Zero will change the way that you interact with email, and that can be both good and bad, depending on your unique situation. This can be even more problematic when you are freelancing or working from home. Work emails tend to get jumbled up with personal emails. In order to stay on top of everything, you'll end up making sacrifices.

1. Anti-Procrastination Tool: Inbox Zero can be a good way to force yourself to stop procrastinating. While a measure of procrastination is good, it can be debilitating if not managed in some way or form.

2. Free of the Email Leash: If you tend to get a lot of emails, you can easily get overwhelmed. Many people just ignore emails and end up ignoring important ones or just archive/delete the lot. Using Inbox Zero will help you get rid of this way of addressing your emails.

3. Using Email as a To-Do List: Some people tend to make lists and stick to them, but others have trouble with this. If you use Inbox Zero, you'll end up using your email as a to-do list. You can even add onto the pile of emails with tasks that you've got to complete by sending yourself emails.

4. Sleep of the Just: We tend to take a rest and relax a lot easier since we've started using Inbox Zero. You'll no longer have that nagging feeling about forgetting some detail, since by the end of the day, you'll have addressed all of the day's tasks. For us, sleep actually comes easier because we don't worry about getting things done anymore (that's because we already did everything!).

5. Faces no Longer Glued to Mobile Devices: There's something quite annoying when you are speaking to people, and they keep glancing at their mobile devices. A lot of this is tied to email and if you use Inbox Zero, you don't really have to check your email on your phone.

1. More Work Awaits: Each time you open your Inbox, there might be work waiting for you, work that can't be delayed if you adhere strictly to the Inbox Zero ethic. This can be especially annoying during weekends, when usually most people spend time off with their families.

2. Missing Family Emails: Since you don't spend a lot of time with your Inbox open, you might miss emails from friends and family. There are ways to circumvent this by using social networking services like Facebook and Twitter. An alternative might include using a different email for your friends and family (which could be combined into a single email account that would act like a hub). So when you are off duty, you can check that email instead of checking your work email. This can be done by using Gmail. You can easily manage multiple inboxes thanks to Gmail and set up a master account to administer them all. This is a further compartmentalization, which ensures that you don't address work emails when you shouldn't.

3. Urge to Purge: When you use Inbox Zero, you tend to want to empty your Inbox ASAP, which can be time consuming. You'll need to set up extra blocks of time, especially in the morning, to deal with all of the incoming email streams. Typically, you can get away with checking your email 3 to 5 times a day.

4. Takes Time to Reach Zero: While it may be easy to clear out 60% to 90% of your Inbox, since those might be just notifications that you've received, the rest of your emails might take longer. It took us about 6 months to clear out the last 50 emails that we had in our Inbox of 500. It's not an easy task, especially if you've been avoiding dealing with certain issues.

5. Inbox Zero Everywhere: Once you believe in Inbox Zero, you might start to apply it to other things, like items in your Google Reader or clearing out your NetFlix Queue. Depending on how much stuff you'll have to go through, it can be positive or negative. You might also not need to do so, so it could be time wasted.

Use Gmail's Priority Inbox If You're Overwhelmed By Email
Optimize Your Morning Workflow
Attaining Inbox Zero to Free Yourself of Email
Managing Your Time With High and Low Tech
Inbox Infinity: When Inbox Zero Isn't Possible
Inbox Zero with Mobile Devices

(Images: Flickr member Evbogue licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member CC Chapman licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member TrevinC licensed for use under Creative Commons, click through posts for image credits)

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