Wait, zero unread messages? I thought "inbox zero" meant zero messages.
People aiming for zero unread messages are at stage one. I'm at stage two: my email inbox contains almost zero messages outright. Since the snazzy "inbox zero" term is already taken, I suppose this could be called "true inbox zero". Or perhaps "inbox zero omega". "Inbox double zero"?
Every email in my inbox has been read. Every email which has been acted upon, and requires no further action from me, has been archived or deleted. Thus, my email inbox constitutes a list of items still requiring action from me, even if the action is "read this email". It is a portion of my global "Things To Do" list.
At the moment, my inbox contains four email conversations. In my archive directory, there are 8300 more email conversations, all of which are concluded from my perspective. (Some of these conversations are still in progress, but if I'm waiting for a response from somebody else then the conversation doesn't require an action from me, so I archive it until the response arrives and bumps it back into the inbox.)
There's no "try to". I read all of my email. Otherwise, the "you have unread emails" notification in my system tray is useless. But it's unrealistic to expect to be able to truly empty my inbox. We all have Things To Do and always will.
I keep my "To Do" list short. When it gets too long, I focus more attention on shortening it. Same as everybody does.
My email inbox is a portion of my global "Things To Do" list. Inbox zero means I've done everything. That's all.
It's always easier to organise fewer things.
In the same way that I lead an intentionally minimalist lifestyle, I have always striven to keep my email inbox as empty as possible by dealing with everything that needs to be dealt with. This is just something that I have done for as long as I can remember, and it is something which I assumed that pretty much everybody else in the world also did, because the reasons for doing so are so obvious and compelling.
I had no idea that "keep your inbox tidy, like everything else in your life" had such a fancy name, or had enough mileage in it to be worth writing a book around. I'm suddenly given to wonder what else there is that I do, which seems blindingly obvious to me, but which would rock the rest of the world to its core.