I'm a proponent of the head-first transition to Inbox Zero.
Simply take all of your email and archive it right away.
Then deal with any new mail using the rules described here. Don't waste your time unsubscribing from newsletters that aren't going out any more, old tickets aren't being updated so you're not getting updates from those, so why waste time on them?
Secondly I think most people are doing it wrong by treating their mail client as a task management system.
Email is for communication
Tasks, tickets, calendars and events, etc., are all separate things which often use email but don't make the mistake of thinking you should be actively managing those things through email.
When an email arrives that results in a new task item for you, then add a new task item in your task management software of choice.
Most mail clients support adding and changing calendar events directly so by all means go ahead and use those features, but your calendar is ultimately a separate beast.
Deferring email is a code smell of Inbox Zero.
If it's not actionable but you need the reference: archive it.
If it's actionable: add it to your task list then archive it.
If it's something you need to reply to then do it right away: then archive or delete it.
If you can't reply right away: leave it in your inbox until you reply.
Deferred emails are a sign you're abusing your email as a task list, and doing it just to keep your inbox at zero means you're really just cargo culting the concept.
It's about managing your communications and information, not about the magical number zero.
I agree to some degree, but task management software just didn't work out for me. I simply forgot to look at them.
Besides the obvious problem, that I'm not adhering to the concept of e-mail, I actually don't see the point to use two applications when instead you can use one application, that you use all the time.
I'm with Thomas here. E-mail often gets abused for other purposes, none of which it's very good for (I blame MIME types for most of this scope creep!). I would prefer to use the right tools (typically a tracking tool, a pub/sub information platform, and human interaction), then drop both e-mail and instant messaging completely due to the amount of distraction caused by them. Inbox Zero is a coping strategy to a bigger problem of unplanned communication...
A particular pain point I find with e-mail is that the source routed nature of addressing causes all manner of communication gaps, some malevolently used by manipulators to introduce or cut people out of conversations, more typically a lack of information on who should be part of something and no guidelines or training on using it well (IMO another coping strategy for a poor choice of tool).
OK, I feel better now :)
[edited to add this search link - this topic has been here a few times]
We're a place where coders share, stay up-to-date and grow their careers.
We strive for transparency and don't collect excess data.