Pages Menu
Categories Menu
The following post may contain affiliate links that help me provide free resources to readers. Please read my disclosure statement.

Posted in Productivity | 5 comments

Can Inbox Zero Help You Get More Done?

productivity, inbox zero, GTDThis is Week 42 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether Inbox Zero (with the help of Sanebox) could help me get more done. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post to see exactly what I did. One addition I made was to use Boxer on my iPhone which integrates with Sanebox.

How Inbox Zero Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Saved me time . Sanebox sent me an email telling me how many minutes I had saved by using their service. I honestly didn’t need the email to see that. Wow. I was amazed by the difference an empty inbox made. I did not have to filter individual emails or even bother unsubscribing for email that I didn’t care to look at. It was all in folders I could quickly scan.
  • Prevented important emails from going unread. I mentioned last week that one of the problems I have had with filtering is that I never look at the filtered emails. Sanebox’s reminder to look at my folders of various emails to see if any should be in my inbox solved that problem. Not only did I look at them, but I was able to scan them so quickly when my important emails weren’t mixed into the bunch.

How Inbox Zero Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Surprised and a little depressed. I really couldn’t believe I had that few “real” emails. I kept reloading my email and searching through the folders to be sure. When I really was sure, I was disappointed that I didn’t have more. That may be pathetic, but it’s true!
  • I didn’t need many of the options Sanebox includes. I did not use the service to snooze emails. I also found that the various folders such as “bulk” and “black hole” weren’t really necessary for me. The “Later” folder did the job as well as any. I also found that the fee for these extra folders and services was more than I would be willing to pay.

Did Inbox Zero Help Me Get More Done?

Yes!  I am delighted that I no longer have to waste my time sorting and filtering my email. So yes, I have decided to subscribe to the Sanebox Snack Plan which is $49/year. The time savings is very much worth it to me, even though I feel a bit lonelier. 😉 If you’d like a free option for doing this, consider turning on Gmail Tabs. The difference is you will have more tabs and will not be reminded to check the emails in your tabs. There is not yet an Android app for viewing tabs, though the Gmail iOS app will enable you to view email this way.


I am still using Sanebox and am saving myself tons of time. I enjoy Sanebox even more now that I’m using the @blackhole folder for things I don’t want to see again. It’s so quick and hassle-free. I highly recommend it!

You may also find this article by HubSpot on four different ways of achieving inbox zero useful.

productivity, GTD, to do list, get organizedThe Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 43

This week I’ll be testing a resistance list. This article from Lifehack gave me the idea that it might be effective to have a list of tasks ready for when you don’t feel like working. I will be adding my tasks to Laza Lists, a free iTunes app.

The concept. We all have times when we just don’t feel like working. That time would be now for me. It would be great if we could still manage to get things (anything!) done during periods of resistance. Heatmapping helped me a lot with this. Getting Things Done would have us create a low energy context for such tasks. The problems I have with that is I tend not to want to even look at my main list when I’m resisting and I don’t put a lot of good low resistance tasks on my list anyway.

I am interested to see if I can get through my high resistance times by doing productive tasks I’ve added to a separate list. I think any kind of list could work, but I’m choosing Laza Lists because of its ability to randomly choose a task on a list. I think this introduces a gamification aspect that could help.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read 12 Ways to Still Be Productive When You Don’t Feel Like Working. Choose a list approach. Spend some time adding low-resistance tasks to your list and continue adding them as you think of them. Use your list when you don’t feel like working.

To see how a resistance list worked for me, click here.

I would love it if you’d comment or share this post. It helps me get past resistance.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

Week 13: Personal Kanban

Week 14: Eat That Frog

Week 15: Vacation

Week 16: David Seah’s 7:15AM Ritual

Week 17: Another Simple and Effective Method

Week 18: Daily/Weekly/Monthly To-Do List

Week 19: Ultimate Time Management System

Week 20: Getting Things Done

Week 21: Time Blocking

Week 22: Morning Ritual

Week 23: Beat the Week

Week 24: Productivity Ritual

Week 25: Make it Happen in 10 Minutes

Week 26: Focus & Relief List

Week 27: Accountability Chart

Week 28: Limiting Choices

Week 29: Zen to Done

Week 30: Heatmapping

Week 31: Gamification

Week 32: The 12 Week Year

Week 33: David Seah’s Ten for Ten

Week 34: David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner

Week 35: Steve Kamb’s Do It Now

Week 36: Rising Early

Week 37: Computer Shortcuts

Week 38: Interrupter’s Log

Week 39: Project Management

Week 40: Little and Often

Week 41: Problem Solving Approach

(Visited 183 times, 1 visits today)



  1. Thanks for this post, Mel. I look forward to these every week!

    One suggestion: You usually jump right in and start telling us the results – perhaps you could include a link back to the previous week where you describe the approach you are reporting on. Sometimes I forget what you wrote last week and have to scroll around to find the link.

    Re Sanebox, it’s not really clear to me how it saved you so much time. What is it about Sanebox that saves so much time?

    Thanks again!!

    • Happy to do that, Seraphim. Sanebox automatically removes email from your inbox that can wait: sales mail, newsletters, etc. It gets better at filtering email as you train it. If you see an email that belongs in your inbox, just drag and drop it there and Sanebox will put future email from that sender in your inbox and vice versa. You can also specify that you’d like it in you inbox just this time. Having to clear just a handful of emails from my inbox saved me a lot of time.

      One thing I forgot to mention is that I use Boxer to integrate with Sanebox on my iPhone. I will edit the post.

      • So it uses a format like gmail with the primary, social and promotions tabs? I love that new feature but wish that my android phone wouldn’t lump them all into one.

        I do like the “things to do when you don’t feel like doing anything” idea but am also trying to stop feeling guilty for not being productive and busy all the time. So my attitude is more “embrace the lazy” now.

        I keep a list of movies that I want to see, a netflix queue, a couple of shelves of TBR books (+ about 100 on the kindle) and a watchlist of stocks to read up on when I’m feeling less energetic. And there’s always another level of candy crush or scrabble opponents to defeat during down times too. :-)

        • Jacq, yes. It’s very similar though Sanebox reminds you to check the other box. My current setup has only two other folders (news and later) which I like. Really I could do with just one folder: later. Here’s an article that discusses Gmail’s approach. Apparently the Android app is coming. I’m using Boxer right now and really like it.

          As for the “don’t feel like working” list, I have Netflix queues and book lists, but that’s about it. I think this will expand my options and also lend some legitimacy to it. But we’ll see. :-)

  2. Odd – my last comment didn’t show.

    Melanie – I’m working on a daily planning (& feedback) system that I’d like to share with you i.e. get feedback, etc. I’m thinking 10-15 min would suffice. If you’re able, please email me at avrum AT nadigel DOT com


    – Avrum


  1. Can a Resistance List Help You Get More Done? - Psychowith6 | Psychowith6 - […] This is Week 43 of a Year of Living Productively […]
  2. Can You Really Write a Nonfiction Ebook in 21 Days? - Psychowith6 | Psychowith6 - […] Week 42: Inbox Zero […]
  3. Automatic Scheduling for Busy People - Psychowith6 - […] Inbox Zero […]
  4. Can a Problem Solving Approach Help You Get More Done? - Psychowith6 - […] To see how I did with Inbox Zero, click here. […]
  5. Can Delegating Help You Get More Done? - Psychowith6 - […] Week 42: Inbox Zero […]

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *