Trying to get your email inbox to zero so that you can start fresh with a clean slate? Inbox Zero is a smart way to manage your emails for the ultimate productivity, and it helps you keep your inbox nearly-empty (and stress-free)! If you’re looking for a way to reduce the stress that comes along with email, then Inbox Zero is a good way to get started. Here are some helpful tips for Inbox Zero.

1. First, Set Aside Time to Delete/Archive Messages

Before you start implementing everyday Inbox Zero habits, you have to clear out and declutter your inbox. Set aside some time—anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour is average—and minimize all distractions. Focus solely on deleting and archiving unneeded messages, flagging anything that needs a reply.

2. Then, Reply or Forward All the Messages that Require Attention

Once you have your inbox cleared out, respond to the messages you need to respond to. If you can’t respond adequately, be sure to send the message to someone who can.

The goal here is to get completely caught up on all email-related tasks, and to get your inbox down to almost nothing. A clean slate will do wonders for clearing your mind!

3. Make a New Habit: Always Reply Immediately if It’ll Take 2 Minutes or Less

Now it’s time to create new habits for going forward. If you get a new email and it will only take a minute or two to respond, do it the minute you see it! Delaying a reply will only cause more stress from having it hang over your head. By putting it off, you also run the risk of forgetting entirely. This is one of the most important tips for inbox zero.

4. Make a “Requires Response” Folder

If something will take more than 2 minutes to respond to (perhaps a request for a quote, or something else that will take a bit more time), place it in a designated folder. You can call this “Requires Response,” “Respond Later,” or something similar. Get into the habit of going through these approximately once a day when you’re not doing anything else.

5. Don’t Leave Your Inbox Open All Day!

The final and most important tip is to not leave your email open all day. You’ll get distracted every time you see or hear a new email coming in, and that’s terrible for your productivity. There are a couple ways you can do this. You can simply close out Outlook or Gmail (or whatever inbox you use) and just check it at designated times or when you have a break in your work schedule. Or, you can get a tool made especially for the job.

DNDEmail is a productivity tool that works for both computers and smartphones, and it lets you set a schedule for receiving mail. For example, if you want to check and respond to emails every day at 3:00, you can set up DNDEmail to hold your messages until 3:00 and then deliver them to your inbox. It’ll keep you from getting distracted when you’re trying to do other tasks and it will help you maintain your Inbox Zero every day!