Confessions of a zero inboxer

I am a zero inboxer. Which is to say, I don’t leave my office for the day until my unread work emails are at zero.

Needless to say, when I read about the man who has almost 20,000 unread emails, I felt beads of sweat break out on my forehead immediately. I can’t even imagine how one could even begin to start the day, under the weight of such an oversized inbox.

Though his example is in the extreme, he’s not alone as a person who grapples with reigning in unread emails. My partner lives in a similar though much lower-scale version of constant Email Stress.


He opens emails and then promptly forgets about them. He starts replying, then leaves it in the drafts folder. He has no system for filing, deleting or archiving, so his inbox is the digital equivalent of a messy bachelor’s wardrobe.

Interestingly, a recent study showed that the average person spends a whopping 17 hours per week – or 3.4 hours per day – reading and answering emails.

So it’s little wonder that organisations are now creating workplace policies on “How to manage email stress”!

Because, let’s be frank, email is a total drag.

Prior to my email evangelisation, I was that person – the one who was intently checking their emails in the grocery store line, responding to colleagues while sitting outside my daughter’s classroom at pick up, and deleting enewsletters at the cinema before the movie starts.

I was always nose-deep in my inbox. But now, if it’s not between the hours of 9 and 5, my email accounts simply don’t exist. My approach to email during working hours is brutal; if I can’t read and respond immediately or forward to another party, I generally delete it. Sometimes I add the task it requests from me to my ‘to do’ list and file it in a relevant folder, but that is the exception and not the rule.

I don’t receive push notifications on my phone.

In fact, I don’t have email on my phone at all.

Going through this process that has enabled me to unshackle myself from the confines of my work when I’m not at the desk.

It’s been a massive game changer for me in achieving a better work-life balance – and when I say better, I mean I now have balance at all!