Email bankruptcy

Tim Ferriss says that modern man fears two things: getting fat and getting too many emails.

Work is all about emails. Now matter how much I try to create to-do lists based on what’s important instead of what’s urgent (i.e. sitting in my inbox), the email inbox still rules at least part of my day.

At home, it’s a little different. Over the past two years, I’ve dropped out of email. I don’t use my personal inbox.

But there’s a good reason for it: it’s way too cluttered. Most of what I receive in my personal email is junk: subscriptions I never wanted and updates from websites I never visit.

The problem of course is that all the good stuff – the emails from friends (or even my wife) – are mixed in with the junk. I found myself trying to sort through the items one at a time but wasn’t getting anywhere.

So I declared email bankruptcy.

I ran a few searches for emails I knew I wanted to keep. I archived everything that popped up in the search.

From there, checked the all button, which selects every email in my inbox, and hit delete. All 6,184 email disappeared.

They’ll stay in my deleted folder for the next 30 days. I’d be surprised, though, if I go hunting for even one email. It’s not like I’ve paid much attention to my inbox anyway. I’m not going to wake up in the middle of the night and remember an email from three months ago that I need to save.

And yet…

And yet it still took some courage to delete them all. What if I need one of them? What if I can’t find something and find out it was in my email along but can no longer retrieve it?

It’s all fear. Maybe some of it is legit. Maybe I did need one of them. Thing is, though, I’m not going to remember I needed it.

It makes more sense to pay attention to emails moving forward and catch what’s important than try to sort through everything that was in my inbox. It’s not like I was ever going to sort through all of them anyway.