email bankruptcy
Digital Organizing

Declaring Email Bankruptcy

This week I declared email bankruptcy! What is that? Well, I have five different email accounts spread across a few platforms. They are all aggregated onto my cell phone, yet I do not manage the emails, except to read them or respond, via my smartphone. And I am on my smartphone all the time.

The problem wasn’t having a lot of unopened emails – the problem was having one email account dating back 7 years, and a few business ventures, that had not been cleaned up. Yes, I had put filters into place to move emails and label them, but that didn’t affect the majority of the incoming email.

Here’s what I did:

1. I have three gmail accounts. To feel a sense of accomplishment, I went to the least used gmail account and selected all the emails and deleted them. I then went to the next gmail account and did the same thing. For the big kahuna gmail account (the one dating back 7 years!), it took me the longest because I sorted the email to show the oldest first. I then selected page display by page display (usually 100 emails at a time) and deleted them. Gmail has some hiccups and there were a few times when NO email was listed at all – if you hit the refresh icon button immediately above the display of emails (not the refresh icon in your URL menu bar), it would then refresh and keep the emails in the correct sort order.

2. I kept emails for the last six months and carefully culled through them, deleting as I went.

3. I repeated the process for my Exchange email.

4. I repeated the process for my web-based email account through GoDaddy. This was the most cumbersome not due to volume but Firefox continually crashed during this email purge process.

The Result: It took me almost 3 hours and I deleted over 31,000 email messages. This included unsubscribing from email lists.

Going Forward: I am now deleting emails as I read them on my smartphone. I have also setup a monthly calendar reminder to review and delete emails.

I challenge you to declare email bankruptcy and clean out those emails! If someone sent you something that they needed your response, they will either send it again or call you about it. If you’re really concerned, then setup an auto responder stating that you have purged your email inbox and if there is an urgent item that you did not respond to, to please resend the email.