I receive, on average a hundred emails a day between my work and personal accounts.
A couple weeks ago, I opened up my Gmail account—I had 14,603 items in my Inbox.
At work, I noticed I had 2,216 emails…unread.
I knew I was facing a moment like Michael Scott—I needed to declare bankruptcy.
Nick Bilton, a tech writer for the New York Times recently wrote this piece on email bankruptcy. When I shared Bilton’s piece on Facebook, I got the question, “Did you really just delete everything?” A friend in IT at work said, “Some people just delete all their emails. You’re not going to do that, are you?”
Well, sort of. Yeah.
In both accounts, I wanted a safety net. So in Gmail I created a label named “Languishing 2013.” I applied that to every single message in my inbox. I looked at the last few weeks of messages to make sure there was nothing needing attention.
Then, I archived those 14,603 emails like a boss.
At work, it was a bit more complicated. I went into the Outlook program on my laptop (I normally use the web app). There, I created a folder called “Languishing 2013.” And I moved every single email—thousands and thousands of them—from my inbox to that folder. I wanted to shout like Braveheart. Except I wasn’t dying…and I was in my cubicle at work.
By creating my “Languishing” label and folder, I aimed to avoid getting judged by people who think it’s irresponsible to just delete all your emails. (I got off on a technicality, but I’ll take it.) But I get all the joy and freedom that this drastic step offers. (And, truth be told, I had scanned the subject and first line of every one of those emails when it came in, so that may make this easier.)
For a number of months, I had long kept lots of emails in my inbox in hopes of taking some action on them—starting a project, reading a book, setting a meeting, etc.
But the truth of it was, I was kidding myself, and I was kidding my colleagues and friends.
I was not going to read those 20,000+ emails. I was not going to start all the good ideas therein. I was not going to do anything except reference them.
The thousands of emails in my inbox were functionally archived. But they sat there, stressing me out.
[Tweet “”I was a liar. I admitted it. I took a drastic step. Now I have just 4 emails total in my inbox.” “]
So my first tip on email sanity, dear reader, is…
Stop kidding yourself.
If you’re going to go back to them, prove it, Hot Shot.
If not, fess up.
[Tweet “If you have 1,000s of emails in your inbox, you’re not doing yourself or anyone else a favor.”]
Tune in Thursday for five more tips on email sanity.
Do you agree or disagree? Have you ever declared email bankruptcy? How’d that work out for you? Leave a comment.