You Only Need 5 Folders to Maintain Inbox Zero for Emails

Nancy Messieh 27-03-2018

There are plenty of strategies to reach inbox zero Get to Inbox Zero in Gmail With These Strategies Staying on top of email is tough! The key to inbox zero is automating as much of the process as you can. We'll show you how to approach inbox zero in Gmail. Read More : use Gmail’s archive feature How to Archive All Old Emails in Gmail and Reach Inbox Zero This simple email habit will help you reach Inbox Zero without all the effort. Let's look at a few tips and tricks of archiving emails in Gmail. Read More , use these Android apps Get to Inbox Zero with These 8 Amazing Android Apps Deal with all your email quicker and easier with these Android apps. Read More , or these iPhone apps 5 iPhone Apps to Help You Reach Inbox Zero Struggling to reach Inbox Zero like the rest of us? These five iPhone apps can help you get there. Read More . You can set up filters 4 Simple Steps to Achieving & Maintaining Inbox Zero in Gmail Read More  and set aside specific times to deal with email 5 Action Steps for Curing Your Inbox Zero Email Frenzy Inbox Zero is one of the most popular buzz words. To truly solve your email issues you need to go beyond Inbox Zero and address the underlying problems. Read More .


But once you get to Inbox Zero, the really hard part is maintaining it. As is the case with most things, keeping things simple is often the best way to ensure success.

With a system consisting of just five folders (or labels in the case of Gmail), you can keep your inbox free of clutter:

  1. Action: Move messages that have a task that ends up on your to-do list. If it takes just a few minutes to deal with – do it right then and there. If it’s going to require more effort or time, log it on your to-do list and move the email to this folder until the task is complete.
  2. Waiting: This is where you put any messages that are waiting on a response or input from someone else. If there’s nothing you can do about this message, don’t let it clutter your inbox.
  3. Ideas: This is something of a long-term folder that is entirely optional. I have found that I hang on to email that contain ideas for projects I can work on, or approaches I would like to test for my work, so this folder serves as a constant source of inspiration when I have spare time to be more proactive.
  4. Archive: Anything that has been dealt with can be thrown into one archive folder. If you’re properly logging any information that comes in from your emails, you don’t need to organize your archive.
  5. Project: If you have a particularly large project you’re working on with a lot of moving parts, you could consider creating a project-specific folder, with action and waiting subfolders. All of the emails can be moved into the main archive once the project is completed.

Many inbox zero purists would advise against a project-specific folder, but I’ve personally found that it helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks on major projects.

And you can even a little automation into the mix for messages that you handle in the same way every time: Gmail, Outlook, and other major email providers make it easy to create smart rules and filters 4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email Decluttering and organizing your Gmail inbox is a daily chore. There is a smarter way to do it. Create four basic types of filters in Gmail to sort your emails right automatically. Read More to move messages without ever touching them.

Related topics: Email Tips, Inbox Zero, Productivity Tricks.

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  1. Pierre
    May 14, 2018 at 2:45 am

    generally just have the One Folder called "Kept".
    - that's all.

  2. SmithPad
    March 27, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    @Dragonmouth Agreed, Inbox Zero is an outdated idea in an age with powerful search. My Gmail Inbox has never been empty, has 10 years' worth of email in it, and I use zero folders. The search tool is so powerful, I've never had any trouble locating anything. over the past. It's so powerful, that I even route the email from several domains I own, all through the one account.

    Organization is unnecessary if you can find everything.

  3. dragonmouth
    March 27, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    "With a system consisting of just five folders (or labels in the case of Gmail), you can keep your inbox free of clutter:"
    What is this fixation on having an empty Inbox folder?! Yes, your Inbox is free of clutter because you moved the clutter to the folders/labels. Big, Fat, Hairy Deal! Clutter is clutter, no matter where you have it or store it.