The 2018 Guide to Inbox Zero in Gmail

Empty Inbox

Inbox zero isn’t just about the number of messages in your inbox; it’s about the mental energy drain that a seemingly endless list of emails can create.

In reality, you can’t act immediately on all the emails that flood your inbox. Therefore, you need a system that can organize, schedule and defer emails. It has to be a system you can trust, so you can be sure every email that requires your attention will be available to you when you need it.

Deferring emails, however, should not rely on simply moving hundreds of emails to “not now” or “pending” folders, which just masks the problem. Also, scheduling hundreds of emails individually can lead to a bombardment of random notifications.

The key to achieving inbox zero by deferring emails is finding a system that allows you to organize and schedule individual and groups of emails with a high level of granularity. These shorter and more manageable lists, grouped by tasks or projects, allow you to focus on specific goals without distraction.

An easy way to achieve such thoughtful grouping and scheduling is to integrate your email inbox with a sophisticated to-do list. Centask has the power to combine the two, and can  provide you with the ability to maintain inbox zero on a daily basis. Every email you send or receive has a natural home within context lists that usually include five or fewer items.

Centask Inbox zero “cheat sheet”

Centask works in harmony with Gmail. Synchronize Gmail Inbox and starred emails into Centask inbox, leaving your Gmail inbox empty. Review and clear your Centask inbox one or two times a day, following these tips:


Email Type How to clear from Centask inbox
Subscriptions/social Unsubscribe and delete
No action required Archive, or Delete
Require action now Act, and then

Archive, or Delete.


if it contains reference information or requires further action Drag to a project, or Schedule by itself

Require action later, but not part of a bigger task/project Schedule

This email will then appear in your Daily Agenda at a date/time per your specifications.

Require action, later, as part of a bigger task/project Drag into task/project

Use Centask’s “find related” or search tool to quickly find related task/project, and drag the email into it. Adjust the related task/project “to-do date” if this new email triggered such a change.

Not enough information to decide if and when to act Drag into related task/project

Once the item is part of a bigger task/project, you can decide how to deal with it when you work on that project. Think of it as a smaller, more manageable “project inbox”



If the item is not part of a bigger task/project, try to estimate when the information be available and Schedule by Date only (no time) so it will appear under your NEXT tag will clutter in your Daily Agenda

Respond or read when I have more time Drag into "Read Later" task you created

Use Centask’s search tool to quickly find "Read Later" task, and drag the email into it. Adjust "Read Later" “to-do date” if this new email triggered such a change.