The Happy Inbox

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Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me The Happy Inbox book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

October was National Book Month. I shared the five books I’m currently reading in this post. Each book appeals to me, for different reasons.

The Happy Inbox, by Maura Nevel Thomas, showed up in my email…and my life…at the perfect time. I admit, I am overwhelmed by the number of emails that flow…and flow…and flow…into my inbox.

Between three email accounts, I received hundreds of emails a day. If I neglect dealing with them for even a couple of days, they seemed to magically multiple, in an explosive way. And then I don’t even want to mess with them.

That’s NOT a good system.

I appreciate The Happy Inbox and the difference it’s making in the way I think about managing emails.

The Happy Inbox title meme

The Empowered Productivity Series

The Happy Inbox is actually book three in the Empowered Productivity Series. Book one is Attention Management: How to Create Success and Gain Productivity—Every Day. And the second book in the series is From To-Do to Done: How to Go from Busy to Productive by Mastering Your To-Do List.

Together these books lay a path to peak productivity. They help the reader achieve results that are most significant, both personally and professionally.

Maura developed the Empowered Productivity System in 2012 after many years of successfully helping her clients. In the past decade, working with some of the world’s most influential leaders and brands, she has reimagined the system, incorporating input and feedback from more than 40,000 professionals.

In short, Maura knows about productivity and freeing others to live extraordinary lives. Her desire is to see more people able to bring their unique gifts to the world in a way that inspires, motivates and excites rather than exhausts, overwhelms and stresses.

The Happy Inbox pumpkin
The Happy Inbox – one of my fall reading books.

The Happy Inbox

This book is easy to read in an afternoon. However, it is PACKED with helpful information for managing communication, not just temporarily but forever.

The book contains five chapters plus an introduction and a conclusion.


Maura points out, correctly, that today managing communication is huge. We are constantly receiving pings…those notifications from emails, texts, phone calls and social media. Truly, it never stops. And those pings are a distraction, causing us to continually switch tasks.

The book offers help in these ways:

  • reduces stress caused by digital and paper clutter
  • minimizes the amount of communication sent and received
  • retrieves important info quickly
  • collaborate with others more effectively

Chapter One: Getting Your Email Under Control

Maura starts here, for good reason. Emails, too many of them, too many unimportant ones, fill our inboxes, creating stress.

There’s no instant fix for overflowing inboxes. However, this chapter and the rest of the book provide the steps for tackling the overabundance of emails and then setting up systems for managing them.

Chapter Two: Being Reactive Vs Being Responsive

In this chapter we learn the things we shouldn’t do with email. There are common tactics we all use to make us feel like we are dealing effectively…and responsively…with emails. However, they are actually counterproductive.

Chapter Three: Processing Email – Done for Now

Maura offers tips in this section for processing emails, dealing with each message so that it’s not hanging around as an unknown. This involves sorting in a variety of helpful ways to help identify what’s there and act in an efficient way. The goal is to move messages out of the inbox.

The TESST process applies to every email:

  • Take immediate action
  • Empower others and yourself (delegate)
  • Suspend to task list, to take required action later
  • Store for future reference
  • Trash it

Chapter Four: If You Need a Fresh Start

The previous chapters supply tools and tips for managing emails. This chapter discusses strategies for dealing with a backlog of thousands or tens of thousands of emails.

There are also helpful suggestions in this chapter for creating better emails. And there’s a section as well on managing other forms of communication.

Chapter Five: Meeting Management

This segment deals with handling meetings, if that is part of your workday.


Maura concludes with key takeaways from the book and positive action steps.

The Happy Inbox emails
The Happy Inbox – see the number of emails??

My Experience with The Happy Inbox

Take a look at the screenshot above. See the email icon? It shows 27,485 emails clogging my inbox. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said this book showed up at the right time.

As Maura points out in the book, managing emails is not a quick fix. However, it IS doable, one step at a time. I am appreciating this book very much as I implement the systems and more than that, recognize why I allow emails to pile up.

In Chapter One Maura writes:

“Your inbox is for receiving messages, not storing them.”

That statement was my first big AHA! I use my inbox to store messages, requiring me to wade through unimportant emails to find, again and again, the important ones. It’s not an effective way to manage communications. I know that. Yet, it feels so overwhelming, dealing with the backlog.

I’m taking action. And I’m learning to implement the systems. It’s not a quick turn around. However, I feel like I’m making progress and streamlining communication.

The number of emails is huge. But that number is smaller than it was a week ago! Step by step, I’m whittling them down.

Get Your Copy of The Happy Inbox

Is your inbox full, like mine? Would you love to manage your communications more effectively? And best of all, would you like to reduce the stress that accompanies a backlog of emails and notifications?

Pick up The Happy Inbox by clicking this link. Or check out all three books in the Empowered Productivity Series, via the Amazon links below.

In the comments below, tell me your numbers. How many emails are currently in your inbox? Can anyone beat my 27,000+? I look forward to sharing, in the near future, a big fat zero for number of emails sitting in my inbox.

The Happy Inbox book


Amazon Links for the Empowered Productivity Series





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18 Replies to “The Happy Inbox”

  1. Ohhhh….I need this book in my life right now. This past year was the first time I let my email get out of control and it feels like I’ve given up. Adding this to my Christmas list!

  2. These all 3 sound like gem packed reads! Inboxes get out of control quickly. Iโ€™ve been at zero at times, have tons of folders for storage, but itโ€™s never ending and takes a lot of effort to keep under control. Good luck to both of us. Haha

  3. I certainly need this! My anxiety goes through the roof and then I am overwhelmed and then can’t do any of it. Thank you for sharing these books, I am going to check them out.

  4. Interesting! I guess in this day and age, a book like this becalmed very necessary! I see the amounts of emails some people get, and it would make my head spin!

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