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author photoChelsea FaithNovember 18, 2023

Is Inbox Zero Worth It? Finding Out The Truth


The Inbox Zero Method is a way to keep your email inbox organized by quickly handling messages as they arrive.

For productivity gurus, those two words signify a beautiful, elusive state. No overflowing mess of unread emails. No endless email notifications lighting up your screen. It's just a fresh start to tackle the day.

But is attaining that empty inbox truly worth the effort?

Yes. It is worth it for anyone who wants to reduce stress, improve focus, and save time.

We'll get into details on:

  • What the Inbox Zero Method means
  • Steps to effectively achieve Inbox Zero
  • Why most people find the Inbox Zero Method worth it
  • Why Tatem is your ultimate email tool for achieving and maintaining Inbox Zero

Note: Try Tatem, the email productivity client that can help you take control of your emails and finally reach inbox zero. With features like split inbox, automatic labeling, and AI writing, Tatem can save you hours managing your emails so you can focus on what's important. Sign up today.

What Is the Inbox Zero Method?

The Inbox Zero Method is a productivity philosophy that has risen in popularity over the past few years. It was created by Merlin Mann, a productivity expert, on his 43Folders site.

Merlin observed that most people used their email inboxes as to-do lists. And, there was a messy inbox when one didn’t know the exact action to take with an email. The result was an email overload.

The Inbox Zero Method was conceived as a time management method to process emails promptly and declutter your inbox so they wouldn’t become an overwhelming to-do list.

Merlin Mann defined the “zero” concept as “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox”, and not the number of emails in an inbox.

Steps to Inbox Zero

The original Inbox Zero Method consists of five steps for email management:

  • Delete: Get rid of any emails that are irrelevant, spam, or junk. No need to read or keep them in your inbox.
  • Delegate: Forward any emails that are not your responsibility to the relevant person. Don’t reply to them or follow up on them.
  • Respond: Immediately reply to any emails that require a quick and simple response. Spend no more than two minutes on them.
  • Defer: Move any emails that require more time, attention, or action to a separate folder or list. Schedule time to deal with them later.
  • Do: Tackle your most important stuff. Transfer these emails to your task manager and convert them into actions.

Quick Tip: The Inbox Zero Method is not about having zero emails in your inbox, but about having zero worries about your inbox.

Tips to Make the Most of Inbox Zero

When asked about his Inbox Zero strategies to handle email overload, Tim Metz, co-founder of Saent, said "I naturally aim to not get distracted by email all the time. This means only checking mail a few times per day and being very focused on dealing with messages when I do spend time in my mailbox."

Metz approach is aligns with the Inbox Zero philosophy, which aims to minimize the time and attention spent on email.

Look. You don't have to always wait for emails in your inbox to perform Mann's golden five steps at the expense of other important tasks. Follow the following time management tips and email strategies to make the most of Inbox Zero:

  • Unsubscribe from emails you don’t need to read, such as spam, newsletters, and promotions. This helps reduce the noise in your inbox, saving you time.
  • Use folders, tags, and labels to organize your emails in different categories and keep track of what needs your attention and what can wait.
  • Try the OHIO method: Only Handle It Once. When you open an email, decide what to do with it right away, instead of leaving it in your inbox for later.
  • Set a maximum number of times to check your email per day, and stick to it. This helps you avoid the temptation of constantly checking your inbox. You can also turn off notifications to help you stay focused.
  • Snooze and set reminders on emails that you don’t want to deal with right away, but still need to follow up on later. This will help you clear your inbox and avoid missing important emails.

Why the Inbox Zero Concept Is Worth It

Inbox Zero is a productivity method that people swear by for good reason. It has benefits such as:

Reduced Stress and Distractions

Maintaining inbox zero reduces the stress, anxiety, and distractions of a crowded inbox full of unread emails.

There’s no doubt that all those unread messages are a major distraction to your daily work. They are weighing you down, demanding your attention, and making it hard to focus on one task at a time. Not to mention the constant worry that you may miss to address important emails.

Inbox Zero eliminates all the trouble by allowing you to be fully attentive without emails diverting your focus. This reduces cognitive overload and provides a sense of calmness, giving you control of your email management.

Saved Time and Simplified Workflows

Let’s agree. The more crowded your inbox, the more time you waste reading and replying to low-priority messages.

By clearing your inbox quickly and effectively, Inbox Zero helps you save time and simplify your workflow. You don’t have to waste time sorting through cluttered emails to find the important ones.

Use filters, labels, folders, and rules to organize your emails and make them easier to access.

Even better, you can employ an efficient tool like Tatem to speed up your email management. Save time by stripping away inbox clutter.

It takes far, far less time and energy to maintain your email inbox at zero than at a thousand.Tiago Forte, Author of Building a Second Brain

Improved Focus and Productivity

The average office worker receives 121 emails per day and 74% report feeling stressed or guilty about not responding to them all. Email overload takes a toll on productivity.

This is where Inbox Zero comes in. With no emails crowding your inbox, you can better prioritize important tasks and avoid constant distractions. This improves focus and productivity.

Key Takeaway: Professionals are more efficient with uncluttered inboxes. They get their work done more efficiently without constant email interruptions.

Potential Drawbacks of Inbox Zero (and the Solution)

While achieving Inbox Zero is a desirable goal, two potential drawbacks arise:

  • Time-consuming: Maintaining Inbox Zero requires discipline and consistency, both of which require time. It also requires effort to keep up with the constant influx of new messages.
  • Anxiety and stress: The pressure of constantly checking and clearing every email as soon as possible can cause anxiety and stress, especially if you receive a large volume of emails daily.

The good news is that you don’t need to do it on your own. An email productivity tool like Tatem helps remove the cognitive load of manually streamlining email management.

Achieving Inbox Zero With Tatem

You've been hitting the unsubscribe button from newsletters you no longer read. You've applied email filters and created folders to help keep your inbox organized.

Let's face it. It's not possible to do all of that on a daily basis.

Tatem offers a solution that helps you reach inbox zero quickly and easily. It comes with useful features that make it your go-to email management tool such as:

Split Inbox

Split Inbox, as the name goes, is where emails are “split” in different inboxes based on their categories. This allows you to focus on what’s important and never miss an urgent email again.

Examples of categories include:

  • Meetings
  • Subscriptions
  • Newsletters
  • Shopping

The list doesn’t end there. Custom-suggest other categories as per your preference and let Tatem help you control your inbox on autopilot.

Automatic Labeling

Tatem lets you set up customized filters that automatically label incoming emails—no dragging, dropping, or filing required.

Emails from your boss? Straight to the priority inbox. Newsletters? Filed under Subscriptions. Party invites? Into the Social folder.

Automatic labeling helps you reach Inbox Zero quickly by neatly organizing your email labels and categories.

AI-Powered Email Help

Tatem takes its email productivity promise to the next level by offering you AI-powered email help. Our top picks include:

  • AI Text Editor: Typing feels effortless with Tatem’s AI text editor. Write your emails with full access to features that matter: underline, bold, highlight, strikethrough, and italicize.
  • Intelligent Replies: Get through your inbox faster with AI-drafted emails. The emails are also written in your voice. Be it formal, informal, irreverent, or personal, Tatem’s intelligent replies will surely nail your perfect tone.

Enhanced Speed

Tatem has <50ms interactions and real-time sync helping you redirect your time to other tasks that matter.

But that’s not all, its smart search function helps you find any email in seconds; even if you only remember a fragment of the title, subject, body, or sender.

Did You Know? Using Tatem saves you 3 hours each week.

And now to our favorites. Keyboard shortcuts. You can use Tatem’s rapid-fire shortcuts on both keyboard and mouse.

Here are a few examples of common keystrokes available on Tatem:

  • Tab: Moves the focus to the next inbox in your Gmail account. You can have multiple inboxes in Gmail, such as Primary, Social, and Promotions
  • C: Creates a new email window
  • J: Moves to the next email in your inbox
  • K: Moves to the previous email in your inbox
  • /: Opens the search box in Gmail
  • E: Archives the selected email or conversation
  • U: Marks the selected email or conversation as unread
  • R: Replies to the sender of the selected email or conversation


Tired of bland, cookie-cutter email clients? Tatem allows you to customize your inbox to be uniquely yours:

  • Switch between light and dark modes for your preferred reading experience.
  • Liven up your inbox view with fun wallpapers, from scenic to artistic to text.
  • Brighten up your productivity with custom themes and colors that suit your style.
  • Go beyond static email views with cool transition effects that add a touch of motion and personality as you move between messages.

Enterprise-Grade Security and Privacy

Email is the main vector of cyber threats and data breaches, with 91% of cyber attacks coming from email. Scary. That’s why Tatem uses enterprise-grade security and privacy to keep your email communications secure and private.

You don’t have to worry about your confidential data (emails, passwords, and payment information) being exposed or stolen. Tatem respects your confidentiality and does not store any of your sensitive data in its database.

It's Time to Achieve Zero Emails

Inbox Zero is worth it. And, Tatem is your best email management tool for achieving and maintaining Inbox Zero.

Tatem creates the fast, focused, and clutter-free inbox you've always wanted. Its AI automation, speed, and intuitive interface combine to make inbox zero attainable for all.

But don't just take our word for it, give Tatem a try and experience the benefits of Inbox Zero. Sign up today and take control of your inbox.