Inbox Zero, I finally got there!

I’ve been struggeling to get to Inbox Zero for years now. I’ve tried Getting Things Done plugins, I’ve tried Priority Inbox in my GMail accounts. I’ve tried paper TODO lists, I’ve tried letting go and not care about countless emails in my inbox, but nothing got me to the point where I was comfortable with the way I handled email.

Somebody once said: “people fix problems, tools don’t”. Although I really believe that’s the case, I think the current set up I’m using with the various email clients, plug-ins and added services finally helped me to get to zero emails in my inbox, along with the right mindset to keep it at zero…

So, what am I using?

Google Apps

We’re using Google Apps at The New Motion, so that’s the first step for me. Although it’s probably possible with other email providers / systems, Google Apps allows me to access my email from anywhere on every device.


Sparrow is the new kid on the block. It’s a replacement for the standard Mac / iPhone email clients. First of all, Sparrow integrates really well with GMail. It support labels, supports Priority Inbox (if you use it, which I don’t), has support for threaded conversations and has little UI features that make handling individual emails a lot more efficient. There’s lot more to tell about Sparrow, so please checkout their website for all the details. It’s available from the Mac App Store as well as the iPhone App Store and it’ll only set you back a few euros.


I recently started to use Sanebox and for me this is the missing link. Separating email that matters from email that can be ignored or only dealt with later is really key to getting to an empty inbox in my opinion. Sanebox only shows you the important emails in your inbox and leaves the rest for you to read later (it sends a daily digest with unimportant emails for you to check). The next really helpful thing Sanebox helps me with is deferring emails. Either by adding a label to an email or by forwarding it to a ‘remind me’ address, it gets deleted from your inbox and only pops up again after a specified period of time. For example, if I reply to an email inquiring for more details and I need to check back in a week whether or not it happened, I label to original email with the @SaneNextWeek label and remove it from my inbox. In one week, the original email will pop back up in my inbox and in the meantime, I can completely forget about it. Sanebox provides lots of other features worth checking out, but these are the two most important ones for me. Sanebox does cost you a bit of money; about $5 per month; or, just one cup of coffee as they cleverly mention on their website. Totally worth it for me.

Why this post?

This post is really meant to give Sanebox a bit of love. Setting up Sanebox is a breeze; actually it’s not just a breeze, it’s a lot of FUN setting it up. They’ve created such a smooth signup process; every online service should look at it and take it as an example. That already justifies this post in my opinion ;-).

Why not Priority Inbox?

Priority Inbox is a feature provided by Google Mail and also separates important emails from emails that can be dealt with later. It works, although the algorithms Sanebox uses and the integration with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter provide for more accurate filtering. But if you would ignore that difference, for me there are two other major differences. First of all, Sanebox has all these other features that make handling email a lot more fun. Deferring emails and getting them out of sight is a major one using the @SaneNextWeek/@SaneTomorrow/ features. The other is the fact that Sanebox is a paid for service and doesn’t mingle with my privacy. While I’m still using Google Apps and Google’s privacy policy still gives them access to all my emails, at least I know Sanebox is NOT poking around in my email for other reasons that helping me handle my email.

By the way, if you have any other tips, please do share!

Now it’s back to work again; I think I just heard an email come in ;-).

4 thoughts on “Inbox Zero, I finally got there!

  1. This is utter shite. What reason do you have for believing that Sanebox is not abusing its access to your emails, or for that matter, why are you suggesting that Google is misusing it’s own access? And how does giving access to an additional entity increase your privacy in any way, shape or form? This entire article reads like a poorly-written, Sanebox-funded advertisement. Sanebox, you should ask for your money back from this schmuck.

    • Haha mister bobo vickers, who dares not give his real name…

      You know, I actually recently quit using Sanebox and switched to Mailbox, that now gets me to inbox zero.

      About misuse versus abuse versus use: read the privacy policies of the respective services and notice the difference…

      Happy mailing.

  2. I would say the less you subscribe to, the less you have to deal with. If you do not really need the information you receive, then do not subscribe to it. Even if you ended up with the “junk mail” because you subscribed to an online affiliate, it takes less effort to unsubscribe, than it does to delete it every month. I deal with email as I do with storage rooms. If I have to pay rent for what I already own, I probably don’t really need it. Likewise with email, if you get it just in case you may need it later, you are better off waiting until you need it to get it. Information is so readily accessible in this modern age, you can usually get it on the internet, and for free much of the time. Think what it was like when you just had to walk out to the mailbox and look inside, you usually knew whether you wanted to keep it or not by the time you got inside. Yes, I remember what it was like before internet because I have been into computers before the modern computer was invented, before they even had on board memory or even a hard drive. That was back in 1970 when the first on board memory was invented. I still check my “snailmail” box on a regular basis. And I still check my email as well. As for privacy goes, the rule of thumb is, if you do not want the world to see it, you probably wouldn’t want to put it online in any form. And yes, I have several fully functional laptops I own with Win. XP, Win. Vista Premium, Win 7 Premium, Linux and FreeBSD. Do I need them all? Probably not but, I DO enjoy working different OS’s as well as my beloved Android. All that and a 15 Mb connection at home. So, am I swamped with too many emails with 5 laptops AND an Android? Not at all. I take my own advice and just don’t subscribe to what I do not need. Easy,no? I say yes.

  3. P.S. The sign says Pura Vida. With the nature of your post, I would have guessed….
    La Vida Loca, or evn….Mi Vida Es A Todo Madre!!!

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