I gave up on Inbox Zero years ago. It always seemed to me like an elaborate game of whack a mole. I used to create folder after folder trying to compartmentalize and file away each and every email with the misguided idea that somehow I would more easily find what I need later, and that I’d taken action on what needed action taken.
I realized this was a form of OCD and actually a time waster. Search has replaced this function for me. To the dismay of IT departments everywhere, I never delete an email. I’m an email hoarder. I figure at some point I might need what’s in there. Search will unearth it for me. It’s rarely let me down.
In order for this to work, I need to at least spend a few minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening to scan what’s new and for things that require me to take action, I put a note in my calendar to do so, and an alarm. The number of emails that require this are less than a handful a day, I can manage that. The rest I can scan by looking at the subject and sender if I even need to open it at all. My inbox has over 38,000 unread emails. I don’t need to read them because they’re of no use to me and my time is better spent elsewhere than organizing them.