It may be time to declare email bankruptcy.
I'm the electronic version of the hoarder who can't throw anything out and is eventually crushed by old newspapers, bottle caps and coffee grinds. Email bankruptcy is the ultimate info dump - delete the entire inbox and start all over again. I'm very tempted.
Like so many of you, I'm overwhelmed by email. I currently have 1243 emails in my personal account's inbox. 5285 in "sent." It's to the point where I can tell my laptop is slowing down. The oldest message is from my friend Larry who sent me his new contact info when he moved to Savannah. In 2002!
It took me a while, but my WBT work account is fine – I'm down to about 5 emails in the inbox and last week I finally realized I needed to delete the send. (Pro tip: It takes a few minutes for the computer to chomp through 3000+ messages!).
I tend to use my personal email as an online library. I search it whenever I need to find something and I hate to delete anything that I could possibly use. It's full of PTA notices, teacher emails, religious school info, my parents' travel plans, pictures of my sister's kids and that article on diabetes my uncle sent two years ago. I help out with my congregation's public relations, so I have tons of information, articles and comments about that. I also get feedback about this blog and my book.
The info overload came to a head recently when I searched for some upcoming travel plans. I pulled up our itinerary and saw that I had booked the flights on the wrong day of the week! After several minutes of panic – can I change that? How do I get a refund? What was I thinking?? – I realized I was looking at a US Airways flight I had booked in 2007.
I know I've got to take the time to get this under control. Here's the advice I found:
-Dedicate a set period of time each day to go through email.
-Be aggressive with the delete key the first time around. About 80% of messages are never read twice.
-Sort email into folders, but limit yourself to five. It can be as simple as two: to-do and archive.
-Start using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter instead of email. (Make sure you check the settings on these so you don't end up with even more email notices every time someone mentions you!)
-Opt out of any groups, message boards or retail sites you haven't used in six months. Those coupons are tempting, but if you never use them, they're just more clutter!
I've moved Larry's contact info to my address book, which leaves 1242 messages in the inbox. How many are in yours? Would you be willing to delete everything and start all over again?