How To Get Your Email Inbox to 0

Ari Meisel Featured Image

Originally published on September 3rd, 2015

One of the foundational lessons of Less Doing is the idea of “Inbox Zero” — where we structure our email inbox to be a seamless, consolidated, and chaos-free source of information and communication. And while Inbox Zero is still a valuable maxim and practice, I’m starting to wonder if it’s becoming a little outdated.

Well, not necessarily Inbox Zero, but rather email itself.

“Ari, what are you talking about?” asked everyone reading this blog.

Let me tell you…

What would you do if you couldn’t email at all?

Don’t scoff at the question and dismiss the idea.

When it comes to business communication, I realize email feels as natural and indispensable as breathing. But with the ascension of new technologies like Slack, Trello, and text-based apps, I’m curious to know how “indispensable” email really is?

We’re not there yet, but I suspect the sun may be setting on email as we currently know it. Although new messaging platforms and systems are still in their nascent stages, their deployment could be rapid and widespread, supplanting email sooner than we think (just look at the success Slack has enjoyed in the last two years).

So, if email was no longer in the equation, what would you do? — Thrive or perish? How would you position your business to adapt?

It’s an important question to consider for the future.

Now before your internal alarm bells start ringing, understand that:

  1. The continued evolution of business communication is a good thing
  2. This change isn’t happening tomorrow — you have time to get ready
  3. Revisiting item #1 — this is a good thing!

I welcome the possibility of an email-less tomorrow. As it stands right now, email is often an awkward bridge between the long-form past (think — lengthy, handwritten letters) and an increasingly short-form future (think — LOL, NNR, IMO, BRB, THX). Furthermore, email addresses — as we all well know — are subject to being bombarded with all varieties of unwanted, inbox-clogging digital clutter.

The nice thing about text-based applications and Slack-like services is that they beautifully collate your messages and operate smoothly from your smartphone. They are also private, permission-only, and feature an astounding array of helpful integrations.

So what’s the takeaway?

Email isn’t going away in the short term, that much is a given. But, as new technologies continue to emerge, my money is on a sustained decline in reliance and general usage.

Where that leads, it’s impossible to know, but we should all get our businesses ready for an Email Zero future. Remember, those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

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