I am keen to share my secret for “inbox zero”.
I use rules. They are available in Fastmail (my service), Outlook (my official email). All the internal communication from the workplace goes in the trash at the outset. I get an average of ten emails per day, and I realised it is not worth my attention. Only the critical emails stay in the inbox; I deal with them as and when.
My personal email has aliases (and folders) with rules to sort out the emails as they hit the inbox. I deal with them after I have finished my reading.
Never use your most productive time to write and respond to emails.
Newsletters, for example, have their own folder. I usually eye-ball the content. If it is worth my attention, I spend time on it. Or else, I just delete it.
I use Spark on Mac ( they have a very slick interface) but without read receipts. Canary Mail is probably dead in the water, and I haven’t heard from them in a long time. The stock Apple Mail is a joke.
The other day a friend showed me a very odd email she had just been sent.
“Thank you for your email,” it began. “In order to be my most productive, I’m only checking emails and taking calls daily between 4-5pm. I shall personally get back to you during these hours.”
My first thought was: what a nerve. What sort of pompous pillock sends something like that?
On reflection, I had another thought: what a genius. Imagine how much more work would get done if we only spent an hour a day on email….
We should not have allowed technology to doom us to endless distraction. I applaud all attempts to stop it. But it is going to take a lot more effort to put us back on the path to email sanity that we all took for granted not that many years ago.