I've given up on inbox zero -- I now use inbox infinity. Everything stays my inbox unless auto-categorized (mailing lists, specific clients, etc). When I look through my emails, I flag any email I'm not dealing with right now. Otherwise I reply, leave it, or delete it. I archive anything old than 6 months every 6 months.
I suppose, in effect, my list of flagged emails is my inbox-zero but I feel more connected to whole stream of email with the box full. I occasionally need scroll to previous days and glance around.
I also have a Pebble so I'm effectively checking email instantly all the time. I find with the pebble that I dismiss things much more frequently now (emails, texts, and calls). Perhaps because the act of looking at the Pebble is so passive compared to checking my phone or computer.
So what you describe is pretty close already to inbox zero. The last step is to get even more aggressive about archiving things non-to-dos and trusting that archive search box. A truly empty inbox is more important than it may seem - new items are seen by themselves, standalone, instead of as part of existing glut of shit to take care of. And it's good to have the discipline to either commit to an imperative task or just say "no" - either explicitly or via non-response.
I found that it's a disadvantage to not have the stream of activity that Inbox infinity provides. All incoming email is sorted by date so I can always see my activity.