Is Inbox Zero Effective or Is It Just a Myth?

It’s certainly a dream of many, to open your email and find just a handful of messages. The question is if anyone ever gets to that point or if it’s simply an unattainable goal. We asked our writers, “Is Inbox Zero effective or is it just a myth?”

Our Opinion

Alex says that despite “serious attempts” at making Inbox Zero effective in his life, he’s “never found the stamina to maintain the system.” However, for “folks with a more constant level of motivation and interest in maintaining their digital communications, it can be done.” He finds, though, that after the “initial rush of satisfaction” of having his Inbox cleaned out, he loses interest, and he’s right back to square one.

Charnita feels it could be effective IF she were to keep up with it, making it a myth, at least in her case. She admits that she hasn’t seen her inbox below 500 messages in what seems like years. While she tries, it just seems impossible to keep up. “I’d have to live in my Inbox and check it 24/7, and I just don’t have the time (or stress level) for that.”


Phil admits he recently noticed that his Inbox was holding 42,000 old messages, so he spent some time deleting the unnecessary ones and got it down to 800. He’s kept it at that by deleting emails as they come in and only saving ones he needs to keep for reference. He knows that at some point he’ll need to go through them again and delete things that are over a year old and print or otherwise archive stuff he wants to keep. “Inbox Zero isn’t just a myth, it’s a pervasive, unrealistic, nasty little stick to beat yourself with.”

Damien reports he’s been able to get to Inbox Zero at times, and that usually requires some effort to get there. And the worst thing for him is that it takes just a few years to a day for it to fill up again. For him, “getting to Inbox Zero is counterproductive and actually requires more work.”

Ryan admits he had no idea what Zero Inbox even was before this, so he feels like it must be a myth, asking if people even really care about it. He feels like it’s a non-issue and wonders if there’s some sort of advantage to having nothing in your Inbox. It reminds him of “self-help books and seminars that teach people how to be successful and the like.” He asks, “It sounds useful in theory, but is it worth the hassle?” He doesn’t think so.


I seem to be the only one who both cares about this and doesn’t struggle with it. I had struggled at some point and started using apps to help me with it. One app allowed me to keep things in separate folders, and that helped a lot. But what really helps the most is Gmail’s app “Inbox.” I either put everything in a box, delete it, or the app actually puts it in a folder for me. It separates things by promotional, financial, etc. It’s actually smart enough to put all travel emails that deal with one trip in a folder together with the date and location of the trip. My Inbox isn’t technically “zero,” but it’s so organized, it may as well be.

Your Opinion

How do you feel about Inbox Zero? Is it possible to achieve it or is it something that’s completely unobtainable? Is Inbox Zero effective, or is it just a myth? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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