How often do you clean out your inbox?

Categories: Making Time, Working? Living?


I’ve been trying to get organized — quite a feat for the self-proclaimed Queen of Procrastination and Duchess of Lazy Perfectionism — and since my desks at work and at home are just too much to tackle right off the bat, I’ve decided to take it slow and clean out my inboxes, clearing out the virtual clutter instead of piles of paperwork I really should be sorting through and throwing away.

In doing so, I’ve discovered that a.) my packratting tendencies extend to electronic communication, b.) I get a lot of pitches from PR people, and c.) I seem to have acquired more email addresses than may be normal. Or practical. Like, eight of them.

My personal account currently has 186 unread messages out of… gulp… 2047. My professional ones are worse, though in trying to procrastinate at the office I inadvertently became productive and winnowed my main work address’ inbox down to a mere 667 messages, total.  And I’m not counting spam, here — spam goes into a different box of its own accord.

So, what goes unread? Solicitations from PR people who can’t spell my name correctly (It’s L-Y-L-A-H, not L-Y-D-I-A). Pitches for stories that clearly are not on any of my freelance beats. Facebook alerts. Newsletters. Embarassingly, things that I’ve forwarded from one account to another often go unread once they get there. That’s right, I tend to ignore my own emails.

I considered just hitting “Delete All,” but couldn’t bring myself to do it  — and I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because if I had, I would have lost a precious email from my 12-year-old saying that she missed me. On the plus side, rereading that little note made me feel warm and happy. On the down side, it also paralyzed me… what if I accidentally deleted something special?

Friends, ‘fess up: How do you handle your electronic clutter? Do you religiously bring your inbox down to 0 before closing up shop for the night? Do you let things pile up until you run out of allotted disk space? And how many active email address do normal people have?

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5 comments so far...

  • I wish that I took care of them all every day, but that’s just a dream. Every couple of weeks I archive and take care of emails that weren’t priorities when they came in. I have 1 email account, but could do with another. My trick for cleaning out my inbox is to select all and then unselect the ones that I’m going to actually respond to. Then I archive everything. Like you I’m afraid of deleting something special. Good luck on you organization quest!!

    bibi  |  December 8th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

  • I couldn’t bring myself to admit to the number of emails in my archive! But I just looked and it’s… gulp… 3899. And that’s just one of the eight accounts. I have my work cut out for me…

    Lylah  |  December 8th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

  • I just spent 3 hours on Friday with a professional “organizer” (for lack of a better term) at work. She brought me down to 1700 (from 10,000) emails in my work inbox. Today I knoicked it down to 8. Whoo hoo! She set me up with a system for working through the messages and working with my large staff to keep them on point with their chronic cc’ing habits. I can’t tell you how great I feel and how much I heart her. Here’s plug for her She’s based out of No. California, but has an online newsletter and RSS feed that would be applicable across the country.

    AmandaS  |  December 8th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

  • I have OCD when it comes to inboxes. I have a tendancy to delete emails as soon as i read them! My hubby thinks its crazy coz sometimes when an email is much needed, i dont have it handy and have to venture to his inbox to read it (common emails) !

    I am the same way about “sent” and “deleted” folders

    i cannot stand useless emails just lying around in my inbox.
    I just HAVE TO get rid of them just that instant if they are not starred already!

    Although this is true, i NEVER come down to 0. I always save a few for memories or imp info. or keep some unread for a later date if they have videos!

    Keyomi  |  December 9th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  • I have four e-mail accounts and I try to keep them organized. Account #1 and main account is for family, friends and confirmations. Account #2 is for groups, two newspapers and vendors. Account #3 is for one newspaper, shopping and FaceBook and last account is for blogging only.

    I sometimes leave messages that I don’t answer right away and try to get to them later. I unsubcribed from many services or vendors, therefore keeping inbox clean. In my groups, I can control how I want to be replied to…..either by group mail or email.

    New Year’s is just around the corner …..delete what you want and start fresh.

    Barb  |  December 12th, 2008 at 9:27 pm