18,000 Emails

Today I cleaned out the email inboxes from the three primary email accounts that I use. These accounts included my personal account, a business account, and a secondary business account that I have recently started using because the address enhances the professional image.

I also have a forth email account that I use for a separate business role. In the last few months, I have been applying an inbox zero rule to this account. When an email comes in, I move it into a triage mailbox. Every day I make sure that I record the actions that need to be taken, and I clear out the triage. I have another folder that I put email in when I haven’t finished the work, but I have to deal with it by the end of the month. I have a couple of valuable lessons from reducing my inbox to a blank slate every day. Some good lessons are:

  1. My inbox is not the place to manage my tasks. If there is something to be done, I write it down on my notepad tasklist or include it in my electronic task list.
  2. My inbox is a place for information and reference. It is a place where conversations start, but not where the decisions are made, and the thinking is done. Thinking is done in the physical world, away from the inbox.

18,000 Emails

Today I adopted the inbox zero approach for my other three mailboxes. I didn’t realize until I started that I had over 18,000 emails in the inboxes of two of the accounts. These emails dated back to about 2017 when it appears that I did a similar purge. I moved all of my emails into three folders:

  1. Action – Items that still require completion (this is my task list in a way.)
  2. Information – These are emails that are newsletters or updates. (Ones that I don’t want to delete yet. Twitter updates were removed in a heartbeat because I can always get to that information in another way.)
  3. Triage – These are the items that have been dealt with, and I might need again someday.

18,000 emails didn’t take quite as long as one would expect to organize. Now all of my inboxes are at inbox zero, and I have a system to keep it that way.


My insights from this exercise:

  1. There is a lot of information out there, more than I can possibly consume.
  2. It is good to have regular updates coming in from different sources. It keeps your thinking fresh and gives you new perspectives. Even if you don’t read all of the articles, you will read those that catch your eye.
  3. I don’t need to get as many updates as I do. There is no point in getting a Pinterest email since I get the same notification on my Pinterest App. The same is true for other social platforms. I can manage my email settings better.

Is my experience common?

I’m interested to know if my inbox experience in common. Does everyone else have this many emails? Or am I just a digital horder? How do you deal with your inbox? Tell everyone in the comments below.