The Pros & Cons Of Inbox Zero

The Pros & Cons Of Inbox Zero

Is Inbox Zero Best?

The increasing trend in business productivity is “inbox Zero” and just as it sounds, it’s following the rule that you should have nothing in your inbox. Whether it’s deleted, delegated, stored in folders or taken care of, your unruly inbox is dealt with so that day to day, you don’t have to worry about being swamped. This sounds like an unrealistic dream for many, but it is obtainable for those who are strict with it and sounds like a fantastic idea. However, for some this could cause a bigger problem than it solves. Let’s look into “inbox zero” in more depth to find out the advantages and disadvantages to having zero messages in your inbox.

Let’s start with the positives:

[Note…this is a case-by-case, for while you may have left the office with 0 in your inbox, that usually doesn’t last long, nor are many able to avoid revisiting their email as soon as they have a chance. Did anyone say FOMO?]

Pros to Inbox Zero

Deals with All tasks

Addressing each email means nothing is missed nor will it get “lost in the system.” For those using an inbox for business purposes this can lead to better customer service as all customers are dealt with and responded to as a priority.

Separates Work and Personal Time

For some, going home with an empty inbox helps separate the workday stress without worrying when you have gotten home about all the potential things you have to deal with.

Helps Avoid Procrastination

Inbox zero can be very regimented meaning you have to get it done. If you weren’t dealing with your inbox first thing in the morning, what would you be doing? Social media or other procrastinating tasks can get in the way, whereas this is productive instead.

Sense of Accomplishment

Many days we can leave the office feeling deflated, but having at least emptied your inbox gives you a sense of success and can be mentally beneficial to avoid stress and burnout in the long-run.

Improved Focus

For some, finishing the day with an empty inbox helps them focus on their work and be productive. Having dealt with all the nagging, unread emails that can often play in the back of their mind, they are now free to truly focus and stop glancing back to their devices.


But, here’s why it won’t work for many others:

Cons to Inbox Zero

Time Consuming

For larger inboxes, particularly for those who have several areas to delegate and manage, inbox zero can take a long time to set up initially as well as being time consuming to maintain. You could lose hours of your day and you need to decide whether this is the most productive thing you could be doing.

Returned Emails

From out of offices to bounce backs or return mail, the more you reply, the more you could theoretically get which means that you are wasting time and energy on meaningless content.

Skewed priorities

Under the inbox zero idea, you have to deal with most emails immediately, which means you could be putting off something that needs to be done instead. While you unsubscribe or archive your mail, urgent matters and work could still be sitting on your desk or inside your inbox…awaiting for you to get to it.


Whether it’s the next spam email waiting to be deleted, a company that has just bought a mailing list you have to unsubscribe to, or even work colleagues organizing a meet up, there will always be more mail in your inbox: day in day out, during work hours or off hours…all the time.

Becomes Obsessive

Waking up every day trying to get your inbox down to zero can become a habit, as well as an obsession and be counterintuitive. Every time an email notification goes off you could be inclined to stop what you are doing, check the email and deal with it, making it more of a nuisance than if you had left your emails to begin with.

Inbox zero is a great idea theoretically, but it really comes down to personal preference and situation and means you need to weigh up how much of a benefit you will get versus the time and energy you will expend. Mail-filters can only do so much. For some it will revolutionize the way they work but for others it may give them a further excuse to waste time during the day, so as you can see, inbox zero may not always be a good thing.


With Knowmail’s solution, AI is utilized to help automate prioritization, save time, and get your urgent matters completed before anything else.


Eran Abramson
Eran Abramson

Eran Abramson has vast background in entrepreneurship, marketing, and content and is an editorial contributor at Knowmail, while also contributing tech and industry related coverage at ReadWrite. VentureBeat, LifeHack, and more.

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