I tried 'yesterboxing,' an email hack popularized by the late Tony Hsieh, where you only answer messages from the previous day. Here's why I struggled to keep up.

Tony Hsieh was the founder of Zappos and created a method to deal with the "unending treadmill", his inbox.
He only responded to emails that he had received the previous day, which he called "yesterboxing."

I receive 60 to 100 emails per day, so I decided to test Hsieh's method.

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Email overload can seem like a constant struggle.

An experiment that compared the email habits for 40 employees over 12 days in 2016 found that workers checked their inbox an average of 77 times per day. Some workers checked their inbox as many as 100x per day.

Email can be distracting and make people feel like they have to reply. This is how I feel firsthand. There are between 60 and 100 unread emails on any given day. These emails are usually irrelevant pitches from PRs or other organizations seeking coverage.

I allowed them to accumulate in order to cope with the flood. When I have the time, I go through them all and reply en masse to those that are worth my while.

While this helps me to focus on other tasks, it is not perfect. Sometimes I miss important requests and reply later than necessary.

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO, shared his email productivity hack that helped me reduce my post-vacation backlog. I looked at the strategies of Tony Hsieh (founder of Zappos), to find a better method.

Hsieh invented the "yesterbox" system. It's simple. You should only reply to emails that you have received the day before. This will allow you to know how many emails you need to respond. Hsieh stated in a LinkedIn 2013 post that "unless it can wait 48 hours, they're not your problem right now."

Before tackling urgent matters, he would answer, file and forward at least 10 emails from the previous day. He took around three hours to clean up the previous day's emails. He would take a vacation and schedule catchup time, but he would always begin with yesterday's messages.

Hsieh was able to speed up her response time and procrastinate less by using "Yesterboxing". It was tested for a few weeks.

Although it took some time to get used to, it helped me feel more in control of my inbox.

It was difficult at first to not answer emails the same day they were received. Inadvertently checking my inbox meant that I could get to yesterday's or just check for urgent ones.

Hsieh acknowledged this. According to Hsieh, it was the hardest part of his job to not answer any emails that came in that day.

It was easy to stop responding to urgent emails and find the right balance between responding to them. This helped me to reduce the number of them.

Depending on the number of emails I received, the time it took me to respond varied, but in general, I was able to clear the backlog within an hour.

I had a much better understanding of my inbox. It was also easier to sort them each day, which meant I missed less.

It was distracting and difficult to maintain, however.

Hsieh claimed that "yesterboxing" was meant to alleviate a person's "unending treadmill", of daily emails. But I found the exact opposite.

Still, it required sorting through emails and identifying urgent messages. It was just as distracting. Sometimes I felt like I was neglecting my urgent but important responses.

There were some helpful aspects to email techniques, but "yesterboxing” is best for roles that you only receive a few internal emails and not a constant stream of uninvited external contacts.

Although it may be easier, I agree with Hsieh that email isn't the best mode of communication. He stated that text messaging is better for urgent matters.