One of the things I found so striking when I interviewed Hal Elrod of The Miracle Morning was how he said when he reached his lowest point in life, when he was in debt, had no prospects, his health was bad, and felt like his life was in shambles, he called a friend to talk about it. After going through his whole story for what felt like hours, his friend listened quietly and finally said, "Are you exercising every day?" Hal was irritated at the question, and thought his friend might have been acting callously, or simply hadn't really listened to him pour his heart out. However, regular exercise became one of the stepping stones for Hal to pull himself out of his misery and is now one of the integral parts of his foundational program for changing his life and the lives of thousands of others.
This is how I feel about e-mail. When someone tells me they have too much stress in their life, they work too much and don't get to focus on their passion projects, they have relationship problems, and they don't eat well, depending on how shocking I want to be, this is why I'll often ask them "How many emails do you have in your inbox?"
1) If you aren't effectively using email you are missing out on the greatest productivity tool in existence. There is no other medium that lets you carry on thousands of conversations at the same time, in different languages, sharing imagery and sound, and makes it so you can remember ALL of it (by searching).
2) Email can replace your to do list by giving you an immediate list of things you can complete in the next 5 minutes. If you can't then you need to delete it because it's no longer relevant of defer it to a time when you can effectively deal with it. All of those actions will result in inbox zero.
3) It's a launchpad for learning how to automate and outsource the things in your life. If you find that you want to put al emails from your graphic designer into an Evernote notebook, then learn to use IFTTT. If someone asks you to proofread a document and you don't have the time, head over to Fiverr and pay someone $5 to do it for you. If you're spouse tells you that they are running late so you need to get a last minute babysitter, TaskRabbit can help. Your email is a lush field of opportunities for you to be more effective.
4) It gives you a sense of control over something in your over scheduled, overwhelming life, and that's a beautiful thing.
So, how many emails do you have in your inbox?