What is inbox zero? For those of us who live and die by the digital word, it’s a state of pristine bliss, where not a single email remains in your inbox. To achieve such a state of being, it takes serious dedication, effort, and persistence. A single sick day can set you back significantly, and a vacation? Well, that’s practically disastrous. Certain email clients make the path to inbox zero much easier than others, and on the iPhone, there hasn’t been much progress with their default Mail app. Organizing emails can be quite cumbersome with it, but now there is an alternative that really makes easy pickings of your email in your quest for inbox zero.
Mailbox is now available for the iPhone. Sort of. It’s the first app you can download that has a waiting list. After the initial release in February, the app started putting users who downloaded it in a queue. The company who created Mailbox, Orchestra, states that the waiting list allowed for the server load to stay manageable given the special nature of how the app helps you to reach inbox zero. Evidently their idea seemed pretty strong, as Mailbox was acquired by cloud storage giant Dropbox by March. The big feature that Mailbox brings to email management is the ability to hit the “snooze” button.
When you “snooze” an email, you are given the choice of when to be reminded, so that you can easily group your emails into pockets of productivity. This method of deferring emails works great for me; I typically address my email tasks first thing in the morning over coffee, yet I get emails all day long. While some necessitate a timely response, a large percentage can be postponed until I can deal with them in bulk. The CEO of the company, Gentry Underwood, states “We want to decide ‘do I need to reply now’, ‘can I deal with this later’, or ‘should I get it out of the way and never deal with it again?'”. The system that Mailbox employs makes it easy to do exactly this.
Mailbox utilizes gesture-based controls to organize the emails you receive, implementing a system of “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” to help people maintain empty inboxes. With swipe gestures, your finger puts the message in the trash, archives it, defers it, or puts it in customizable to-do lists. With these simple four choices, you can quickly push through the throngs of emails that arrive constantly, clogging your inbox.
Back to the waiting list thing – when I downloaded the app, I had about 400,000 people in front of me, which seems like quite a number. That said, it took about a week and a half before I was able to get started. I experimented with one of my personal accounts that had about 7,000 emails to sort through. I was able to achieve inbox zero in about 3 days, not that I spent all my waking hours doing it. Granted, most of my emails had been read and dealt with, so I didn’t need to peruse each and every one, but I considered the whole process pretty painless.
Another caveat about Mailbox that it only works for Gmail accounts currently, but as a heavy Gmail and Google Apps user, this worked perfectly for me. Mailbox plans on integrating other email platforms in the future, and if the popularity of this app is any indication, they will go far. Mailbox is a great app: it is free, it is easy to use and it will change the way you use email on your phone. Once you hit that inbox zero, you won’t look at email the same ever again.