Emptying your email inbox isn't nearly as fun as playing a game of Tetris, but it's the same activity: you delete or reply to messages faster than new ones arrive. New browser extension 0Boxer adds that element of gameplay to email drudgery for Gmail users.
With 0Boxer enabled in your Gmail account, you earn points and badges for clearing out your email inbox. There's even a 0Boxer points leaderboard so you can get competitive and see how you're stacking up against other diligent 0Boxer users.
Here's how 0Boxer works: download and install the extension for Chrome or Firefox and visit your Gmail account in your browser. You'll have to give 0Boxer access to your Gmail account.
Sounds like a security threat, I know. But the makers explain that only stats about your email activity—"1 message archived"—are sent to 0Boxer, not the content of your actual messages. The stats are sent over a secure, SSL-encrypted connection.
Once you're signed in and 0Boxer's enabled, process your email as usual. As you do, you'll start earning 0Boxer points for every message written, archived or deleted. You can watch them accrue in the 0Boxer header across the top of your Gmail inbox, as shown.
You can also earn badges for certain achievements along the way, like the first time you empty your inbox. 0Boxer is still early in its development and had some bugs last week. As a result, the first few times I emptied my inbox, I didn't receive my "First Zero" badge--that is, until earlier today, as I was prepping this story.
Luckily, I'm not alone in being so competitive about my 0Boxer points and badges. Users are already finding ways to game the 0Boxer leaderboard, leading others to complain. A fellow 0Boxer user confessed to me that he tries not to delete mail on his mobile phone because then he loses out on earning the 0Boxer points. (0Boxer only works when you access Gmail in Chrome or Firefox with the extension installed.)
On the surface, 0Boxer can seem like a frivolous app, but anything that tricks your brain into thinking work is fun gets you DO that work. It's the ultimate productivity hack. At this point I get an embarrassing amount of satisfaction watching my points increase with every press of the Y key (archive) in Gmail. If this all means dealing with email feels more like gameplay than work, I'm in.
Now, what do I have to do with my inbox to earn that "Whole Hog" 0Boxer badge?