Inbox zero. It sounds like the title of a cyber thriller novel or maybe the origin point of some kind of virus. What it really means is the concept of getting your inbox down to zero emails. I’ll pause here while you, like most people, laugh at the idea.

Probably about five, maybe six, years ago inbox zero, as part of the “minimalist” movement was seen as the idea. Twitter and Facebook posts were like “400 emails left. Trying to get to Inbox Zero.” and everyone had empty inbox envy. Then, I read an article in The Atlantic, that talked about instead of striving for Inbox Zero, you went for Inbox Infinity. Basically, the hypothesis was that no one can get to inbox zero so embrace the full (and over full) inbox and just stop answering emails.

Whoa! What a minute! What?

Okay, I’ll admit, this hit my Type A, Capricorn Workaholic, right in the to do list. I mean, if I send an email to someone I expect an answer. Not immediately, but within a day or two. If it’s a big company, I’ll judge that company based on how quickly it answers emails. (Especially if that service is part of a “priority service” that I’m paying for.) And as a reader, if I emailed an author to let her (or him) know that I enjoyed the books or with a question about a series, I’d want to hear back. I bet you would too.

This also has implications for author newsletters. So right now, in the interest of full disclosures, I’m sitting at (goes to check) 230 emails in my inbox and 3145 in the “promotions” tab. I would estimate, in my inbox probably 20 emails are action items (including mom’s extra talking book cartridge I sold on Amazon and need to get packed up  and shipped today) and the rest of them are promo opportunities, email newsletters about how to market books and things I find of interest and need to read. Ditto with my marketing tab. These are author newsletters, blog subscriptions, things I need to read. And I do.

If you talk with me at any length online about newsletters, you know I really hate it when authors “cull” their list of non openers. I understand it’s costing you money, but technology also makes it difficult sometimes to know when someone opens an email, and you may have readers like me, who WILL go back and read those emails. I may even buy your book or rec it on social media. You take me off your list, I won’t do that for you.

I think the real answer is to find the happy medium, as I seem to have done, between inbox zero and inbox infinity. Would I like my inbox to be smaller? Hell yeah! My goal is under 200. Under 100 is ideal. But to completely ignore emails? That’ll turn off readers, potential networking opportunities and even business partners. And we don’t want to do that.

How do you feel about inbox zero vs. inbox infinity? Tell me in the comments!


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