For me, the real ‘zero’ in Inbox Zero is more about consciously managing the amount of our attention that we commit (or, far more often, cede) to thinking and worrying about what may or may not be piling up while we’re away doing the real work of our lives. Which is to say: the Real Work that’s not, in this instance, about fiddling with email or drearily suffering the daily fusillade of random requests and information bombs that get lobbed our way.
Put to best use, Inbox Zero is merely a philosophical practice of learning to be parsimonious about which and how many inputs we allow into into our lives—and, then, to responsibly but mindfully tend to those inputs in a way that is never allowed to hinder our personal commitment to doing the work that really matters to us.
Yes. A million times yes.
Unfortunately, it has taken me far longer than I care to admit to realize this as well. “Inbox Zero” isn’t about chasing down that mythical void of a number — it’s about realizing that you’ll never be able to, being okay with that, and adjusting your life accordingly so as to put yourself in the best possible position to actually get shit done.