Inbox Zero

My IT class was staring at me in shock and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I noticed their eyes sliding between me and the projector on the wall behind me. I turned and noticed that the projector was now showing my Gmail account, because I had just used Gmail to send a code sample to the class.

“What?” I asked.

“You have twenty-three thousand unread emails,” stammered a participant.

Getting to Zero

My Gmail account serves as a backup – I forward all the mail from my various accounts to it as an archive. So I don’t read the mails in my Gmail account, leading to a build-up of many thousands that seemed unread to Google.

My real email inbox is empty at the end of the day. Yours should be, too.

The reason your inbox should be empty is that any kind of unfinished business occupies part of your attention. If your inbox is full of new things you haven’t read, things you haven’t decided what to do about, and things you are just keeping because you’ll work on them later, your brain will keep thinking about your inbox, and you will be compulsively checking it several times an hour to make sure you’re not missing anything.

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