Reaching Inbox Zero Made Me 10x More Efficient – Here’s How I Got There

Inbox Zero, a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty at all times.

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Lissa Kline, LCSW46
VP of Member and Provider Services at Progyny.

At Progyny, we are honored to be a part of individual and couple’s family-building journeys, and we take it seriously.  So much of taking care of someone’s needs is response time. You must be both efficient and effective and do it with care. 

I’m always looking for better tools for the Patient Care Advocates to better triage and respond to our member’s emails. I mentioned this to my colleague, Brittany, who has mastered "Inbox Zero." In her role as Executive Assistant, she’s accumulated resources to keep everything running smoothly. She was happy to share her tips with our team.

What is inbox zero?

For those who aren’t familiar, "Inbox Zero" is a method to organize and manage your emails. Brittany described it best when she said that, “'Inbox Zero' is a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty – or almost empty – at all times. It’s a way to efficiently process inputs (i.e. emails).” The goal is to have nothing left in your inbox, and anything left in your inbox serves as your task list. 

Our PCAs get hundreds of emails a day, and it can be difficult to manage them all with the importance they are due. The "Inbox Zero" process has made us more efficient, and has revolutionized the way we approach emails and work overall. "Inbox Zero" will help you respond to emails quicker, triage emails effectively, and archive easily.  

6 steps to achieving inbox zero

Before you try to clear your inbox, start organizing your folders that work best for you. Is it specific labels or large topics? Once you’ve figured out how you’d like to organize your emails, Brittany explained a few basic steps of "Inbox Zero":

1. No action, file it.

If a message requires no action on your behalf, archive it immediately.

2. Reply if you can, then file it.

If a message requires a simple reply that you can knock out in a minute or less, respond right then and there, and then archive it immediately.

3. Snooze it for later.

If a message requires some level of thought or response that you can’t get to right away, snooze it to a time and date when you will be able to handle it. Whether it’s later that same day, sometime the following week, or on a Friday two months down the road. That’ll get the message out of your way so it doesn’t serve as a constant source of distraction. It will reappear and grab your attention when the time is right.

4. Think of it like a text.

As in, keep it concise. Just a handful of sentences — five or fewer — will usually do, unless the issue is highly complex.

5. Unsubscribe.

Have a million newsletters you subscribe to? Chances are, you don't need (or even read) them all. Save yourself from overcluttering your inbox by unsubscribing from the spammy newsletters you don't read and barely ever even open.

6. Never open an email twice, and never leave an email in your inbox beyond a single day. 

Brittany uses these steps to have a proactive response to her emails.  She says it’s allowed her to focus and that the approach, “strips away the noise of a busy inbox and focuses on action.”  Brittany said the hardest part of adapting to "Inbox Zero" is the discipline it requires.  But once it’s adopted, “'Inbox Zero' focuses on taking action on incoming emails depending on the nature of the email. Defining ahead of time how you will handle different types of emails simplifies the decision-making process, allowing for efficiency.”

Managing all we have to manage in a given day can be overwhelming. "Inbox Zero" is just one of many tools you can utilize to handle all of your work tasks and be an efficiency superstar.  Brittany swears by it, and now my team and I use it too. We’ve found it adds clarity and there’s nothing more satisfying than leaving work at the end of the day with zero messages in my inbox. 

You’ve got this! Start filing and you'll reach "Inbox Zero" stat.  


Lissa Kline, LCSW is currently the VP of Member Services and Provider Relations at Progyny, overseeing the Patient Care Advocates. She worked at Columbia University Medical Center for several years in the division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Involved in Patient Services and the Donor Egg Program she loved working patients while they underwent fertility treatment. Lissa graduated with a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.