Habits for InboxZero

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We’ve all experienced dreading the return to work because of the big, red number that looms over your email inbox. It can seem like a never ending battle to try and get your inbox down to a manageable amount, but for many, it’s a daily occurrence that that number returns to 0. But is an empty inbox really that good, and how can you implement it?

What is InboxZero?

InboxZero is a term coined by Merlin Mann, a blogger that is known for his rigorous approach to email management, including keeping his inbox at 0 unread emails. He focuses on productivity – with the notion that it isn’t about the actual number of emails we have, rather the time spent by our brains within that inbox. 

From this, Merlin identified five actions to take for each new email: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

  • Delete – Emails that you can delete or unsubscribe to are an instant win
  • Delegate – Anything that you don’t need to handle yourself should be delegated to a colleague
  • Respond – If you need a response in order to work on the task, respond and then forget about the email until you have received a response
  • Do – If it’s a task that can be done in a matter of minutes – do it
  • Defer – If it’s a task only you can do but will take longer than a few minutes, defer it to a later time or date 

Why Practice InboxZero? 

Nowadays our emails are everywhere – available on our smartphones and even our watches. Everytime we finish a task (or respond to an email), we get a small dose of Dopamine – due to the satisfaction of ticking a task off. However, this human need for accomplishment can be severely impacted by the constant flurry of emails, which can set off hormonal changes and raise stress levels. 

Here at Ballyhoo, we try to actively maintain InboxZero – to stay on top of our customer service but also ensure that our mental health is not negatively impacted by technology. 

Gmail & InboxZero 

Gmail has some great features that support InboxZero. 

Email Templates 

The quicker you respond to an email, the quicker it’s gone from your inbox. Using template responses allows you to write emails and save for a later date, so that you can use them time and time again – cutting down how long it takes you to respond to emails.

Predictive Text Suggestions

Gmail now uses AI to predict what you are going to type, and shows suggestions as you type. You can easily add these suggestions to your email by pressing the Tab button – making it quicker to formulate email responses and get that all important Inbox Zero.

Suggested response buttons also appear at the bottom of incoming emails – allowing you to quickly compose emails and respond to them.


Another handy tool from Gmail is the snooze button. You can press this button on an email, and choose a time for it to reappear in your inbox – until then it will disappear! This allows you to forget about the email until a later time or date. 

Delegating Emails 

This feature goes hand in hand with Inbox Zero’s ‘Delegate’ action. Gmail allows you to assign emails to your fellow team members, by granting them access to your inbox. They can then read, send and delete emails for you – helping you to get to Inbox Zero quicker. 

Schedule Send 

A new feature from Gmail – you can now write up your email and schedule it to be sent at a later time or date. This is great if you have some time to reply to emails, but don’t want to deal with a response just yet.

Coloured Stars 

The coloured star feature allows you to visually identify what action each email requires. For example, you could have Red for urgent items, Purple for awaiting reply, and Orange for follow up. 


Filters are a great way to organise your email inbox. When you receive an email, it will automatically go into a specified folder, which you can deal with at a later date. For example, here at Ballyhoo we have filters set up for incoming invoices, which are dealt with when the team has dedicated time for accounting. 

Filters don’t just work on folders – you can also set up filters to automatically forward emails to other team members – ticking off the ‘Delegate’ action of Inbox Zero. 

What’s more, you can set up filters that will automatically pull emails with your stars into the right folders too. 

Google Workspace Resellers 

We are Google Partners and Google Workspace Resellers – meaning that we can manage your account for your business, including offering support and work transformation. This takes the stress out of your team having to manage this by themselves. 

If you’re interested in having us help you with email management, contact us now. 

Alison Chaffey


Alison is our Creative Director*. She has worked alongside Anthony to build the business since it was founded in 2009. Her passion is design and UX, and she has a laser eye-for-detail. In other words, she’s a web developer’s worst nightmare.