Use Yesterbox to Ace Your Email (Productivity Tip)

Tim Metz (孟田)
2 min readMar 30, 2017

Yesterbox is an email technique from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. The concept is straightforward: instead of trying to keep up with every new email that lands in your inbox today, your only goal is to clear out mail from yesterday.

This sounds silly at first, but it’s actually quite powerful: by focusing on yesterday’s emails you create a finish line, as the amount of emails from the day before is finite. Contrast this with responding to every email immediately: you never know how many more mails (including responses to ones you’ve just sent) will arrive throughout the day.

An additional benefit of this approach is that you give people a response within a reasonable timeframe (24–36 hours), while simultaneously training them not to expect instant replies. Email was never intended as a chat-like communication platform and “the tyranny of email” largely stems from people using it in that manner. Yesterbox is the perfect antidote.

Hsieh’s original concept has more detail, for example not being allowed to read today’s emails until you’ve answered at least ten of yesterday’s emails. Personally, I don’t need this: I follow a rule that I only reply all of yesterday’s emails and then I’m done for the day. :)

Read an expanded version of this article on the Saent blog, including instructions on how to set up Yesterbox filters in Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail.

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Tim Metz (孟田)

Content Marketing Manager at @animalzco. Cofounder at @getsaent.