My inbox rarely gets below 200 messages. These are messages that I have all seen though. Like with making a todo list, cleaning your inbox is a very useful tool to enhance your productivity.
A full inbox will either just sit there and you only deal with the newest emails, or it will prompt you to go through the endless list of messages and review them to see if you are not missing anything.
Consider cleaning the inbox and archiving or categorizing your mails.
If you use Gmail you may want to just archive messages and use the excellent search function to find something you need back later.
If you use other mail programs with a less brilliant search you may want to develop categories or folders and store your mail there.
My (Yahoo) inbox has several filters that keep the inbox clean by immediately storing incoming mail of certain categories (bank updates, airmiles statements etc). When I have some time I can go into these folders and read the mails but I don’t have to loose time with it every day.
Cleaning my inbox is a process of going through (at least the subject of )the mail, deciding what category they are:
- Immediate action needed, keep in inbox or deal with it now
- Waiting on something to happen (like a delivery), keep in inbox or special folder
- Good for later reference, store
- Nice to read or useless, delete
There are some tools you can use. Other inbox is a tool where they scan your inbox and store the messages according to their categories and content for you. The Gmail enhancement Boomerang is another tool where you can delay sending emails and have emails re-appear in your inbox when they have not been replied to in several days.
I have lost my faith in the paperless office already in the 80ies, I also have lost my faith in an empty inbox but keeping it to a manageable size keeps me focussed on the important things and cleans the clutter in my mind.