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Image via James Sypniewski

One-Touch to Inbox Zero

“I don’t need a system — I just keep everything in email!”

First, the obvious stuff

1. Unsubscribe from every newsletter, notification list, and broadcast list that isn’t absolutely essential (using a service like if necessary)

2. Forward all your email accounts to Gmail, or whatever service you have to use for work.

3. Use Mailstrom to batch delete hundreds (or thousands) of unimportant emails at a time, and then move all remaining emails from your inbox to a specially marked folder.

Second, strip email down to its core function

4. Turn off multiple inboxes

5. Turn off all “smart” features

How I see so-called “smart” features

6. Turn off all chat and social media apps

7. Turn off all notifications

Third, set up four downstream systems

You after an Inbox Zero weekend crash course

8. Download a calendar app on every device, and make sure your calendars are synced across all of them

Quick Entry with Autofill, in Things

9. Download the free version of Todoist or the 30-day trial of Things, activate the “Add task” shortcut, and practice creating new email-based tasks

10. Download Evernote (or another note-taking program) on all devices; add the “forward-to” email address to your Gmail Contacts under the name “Reference”

11. Download a Read Later app on all devices, and practice saving items to it from multiple locations

Fourth, streamline your workflow

Email is the woman in the blue dress (source)

12. Turn on Auto-advance in Gmail Labs

13. Turn on keyboard shortcuts

14. Turn on conversation threads

Fifth, practice making triage decisions

15. Follow the sequence:

Open Gmail

Open the oldest email in your inbox

Decide what needs to be done about it, and take one of the 6 following actions:

Any system with an unchecked positive feedback loop will ultimately destroy itself




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Tiago Forte

Tiago Forte

Founder of productivity consultancy/training firm Forte Labs (, editor of members-only publication Praxis (

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