Inbox Zero Cheat Sheet From Centask

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 Flow Chart Diagram

Centask works in harmony with Gmail, The first step in achieving inbox zero is to delete or archive as many new messages as possible in your Gmail inbox and move the rest into CENTASK label. These  emails will move to your Centask inbox, leaving your Gmail inbox empty. Review and clear your Centask inbox one or two times a day, following these tips:

Inbox zero


Email Type

How to clear from Centask inbox


Unsubscribe and delete

It is better to not import these emails into Centask. You can use your email client script to automatically move such emails to a separate label in your email client, so they never land in your Centask Inbox.

No action required

If needed for future reference, Archive, otherwise Delete

Some users may rely solely on search to find archived emails when they need it; others may organize it into a folder or assign it a specific label (e.g., “taxes”).

Require action now


Then Archive, Delete or Add to active project if it contains reference information or requires further action

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


This email will then appear in your to-do list at a date/time per your specifications.

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

Drag into task/project

Use Centask’s “right click”/“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 tag accordingly (e.g., NEXT, scheduled daily or WEEKLY, scheduled weekly, etc.)

Nice to respond or read

Assign a SOMETIME tag

You can schedule a to-do date/time during non-work hours (e.g., during lunch time, evening, etc.) – or access it when you have free time by using the search tool. A cautionary note: If this list is getting too long, rethink what you add to it, and go through it regularly to delete items that no longer interest you or require response.