Inbox Zero

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What Does Inbox Zero Mean?

“Inbox zero” is a philosophy of email management that involves carefully handling incoming emails on a periodic basis to make sure that no emails are left unattended after a certain point in time. Inbox zero may also be called “zeroing an inbox” or a “zero inbox initiative,” and has been pursued by many email users as a way to organize what tends to be a somewhat chaotic environment.

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Techopedia Explains Inbox Zero

As email has evolved throughout the years, inbox zeroing has become difficult in terms of handling massive amounts of spam, automatic subscriber emails and other emails that tend to clog up the user’s inbox. There are also different levels of legitimate email coming from co-workers, bosses and other process stakeholders that have to be handled in a complex way. All of this leads the average worker to have thousands of emails coming into an inbox in any given week or month, and too often, no place to put them.

Many attribute the idea of zero inbox to Merlin Mann, a productivity manager who suggested that this is one of the best functional ways to keep track of emails. Since then, it has been touted as a common approach to email management. It is also part of how people evaluate a particular email client in terms of the features and functionality of that email environment and how well it supports zero inbox initiatives.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.