Is 123,500 e-mails too many...how do you manage your inbox?

15 replies
Hi Folks,

I wanted to know how others deal with e-mails.

Since I got gmail shortly after it came out, I have not felt the need to organize and delete all the things that come in.

The oldest dates back to 1/31/06, almost three years ago.

Initially I thought I'd keep e-mails from people I may want to borrow from for headlines or my own offers, for example to look back and trace the Butterfly Marketing launch and many that came after it.

Yet so far it's rare that I do look back for things, maybe once a month.

The thought is that Google gives us so much space, we could go 10 years without having to clean the inbox, and our time is more valuable than to designate it for such a non-moneymaking "chore".

And its search feature makes it usually pretty easy to find old e-mails, as needed. Probably better than the Outlook I used way back when.

(At the same time, these comments feel like rationalizations, because there is the feeling or sense of having a desk with 123,500 letters piled to the ceiling and spewing on the floor... the fact that this is quite a large pile of clutter, contributing to or mirroring the clutter in my mind.)

(...Or at least that's a theory some "law of attraction" coaches would espouse.)

How do you deal with e-mail in your inbox.... or do you?

Warmly,
Dan
#123 #500 #emails #inbox #manage #manyhow
  • Profile picture of the author Dan Klatt
    LOL, thanks Paul :-)

    I can appreciate the wisdom in your approach.

    It's probably the equivalent of the guideline the clutter-removal people tell you to use with your closet - if you haven't worn it or used it in 2 years.... get rid of it!

    Where as you say, things online change so fast, three months is probably comparable to two years of printed materials.

    (We probably don't want to talk about the 14-inch stack of direct mail pieces I have on the floor of my closet as "Ad Swipes" or the foot and a half of publications I've kept thinking I might want to advertise in them or track back to find which ads have been most successful.)

    That, too, isn't a bad idea to do in theory, yet that's only if you go through these things and make use of them - copy the headlines and write down what made that envelope copy effective... and see why the recurring ad has been a money maker over the last 12 months.

    Because I haven't done that work, then I think it just counts as "clutter" and would be better served in a recycling plant somewhere.

    Thanks for the idea to delete all e-mails more than three months old!
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Fenty
    I delete irrelevant emails everyday and sort them into email folders if there important and need to be saved.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Klatt
    I used to do that with Outlook, and that was helpful.

    That would be good to learn how to do in gmail. I think there is some way of setting up folders, and I think when I started with them that was not an available feature.

    I remember way back when I thought "OK, 12,000 is the absolute limit... after that I'll delete 1,000 a day" - and then it became, 20,000, etc., until I decided it would take too much time.

    ....Hmm, as I wrote that, the little voice of opportunity stepped in and whispered: "maybe you could use these 123,000 e-mails as a service - 'want the entire launch sequence of ___'."

    (I think 'junk is junk', even if you put a bow on it ;-)
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  • Profile picture of the author vbkid
    utilizing filters, folders, and sorting

    I'm able to get it done, but still have 1,000's of irrelevant emails lol
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    • Profile picture of the author dukeoferl
      I delete anything over one year old, around the first of the year (just did my gmail accounts this morning. Gmail calls it's folders labels for organizing. They're easy to set up.
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  • Profile picture of the author Maevn
    Just get into the habit of checking and pruning your e-mails daily, or even more frequently.

    Sort the ones you want to keep into categorized folders and just throw everything else in the Trash. Google will store it there for 30 days before getting rid of it anyway just in case you have second thoughts for whatever reason.

    One of my pet peeves is seeing "Gmail - Inbox (1)" as one of my Firefox tabs (or any number of emails, for that matter) so I religiously check and respond to e-mails almost as soon as they come in.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Klatt
    Thanks, that's helpful to learn about labels. I've set up four - and deleted the most recent 200, other than 3 or 4 I saved.

    Curious gmail said "Important" was an invalid label. I had wanted to use that as a folder name, and it wouldn't all me to.

    So I actually have less e-mails today than I did yesterday


    Maevn, I can relate to needing it totally clean. That's how I am when things are clean... and I consider that the ideal for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author Derek Pankaew
    Hi Dan,

    I highly recommend the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. It's all about getting organized both in your time management and in your personal space, so that you can be more productive.

    He works from a zero inbox. Meaning every day, his inbox is emptied. Every email is either a task to be done immediately, a task to be done later or reference material. In each case, it's handled or filed on the spot, so that your email inbox is always empty.

    Highly, highly recommended.
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  • Profile picture of the author DotComBum
    It's impossible for you to go through 123,500 emails one by one, if I were you , I will look at the subjects of the emails , if nothing seems to be important, I delete all, this is the faster way to sort through that many emails, hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Klatt
    Thanks Derek, I appreciate that approach and will make a point to look for that book at B&N when I'm there next.

    I'm down to 123,241, so :-)

    (I did a quick calculation that if I kill 200 a day, it will only take me a little more than a year to clear out everything.)

    Funny, I just took it for granted that everyone else used gmail that way, too, like "The Archives" where you can find any relevant old messages pretty easily.
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  • Profile picture of the author lavaleekathy
    Agreed with suggestions so far, I don't think you'd want to spend all day going through 123,500 emails one by one, I think the best way would be to go through and just delete the ones that have strange or nonsensical subject headings that mean nothing to you. And then flag the ones that may be important to you. I think this would be a more efficient way to sort your large number of emails. Hope this helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author spoiledpups
    Keep the inbox empty, make sure you archive it or put it in a to-do list, but keep the index empty every day.
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  • Profile picture of the author robertstr
    I wait one year and kill. I am always worried when I do this as I expect to need something from that time frame..the very next day. lol
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    Because I am in the business of website development I keep all communications which include emails and instant messages.

    I have emails that date back to 1995 but I do not keep those emails online. I make a backup of them sort them and they get placed on external harddrive for safe keeping. 132,000 is not that many, I can promise you I have 10 times that easily..lol

    If you keep your mail managed from day one and sorted then it makes things alot easier when you do backups.

    Now if you are talking spam emails, I do not have spam issues..lol If you are talking about mailing list emails from opt-ins.. Well thats simple, I do not subscribe to IM mail list.. I am on one mail list and that is David's...

    James
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Klatt
    Thanks guys!

    After I had it down to like 400 e-mails, I felt like I would be missing too many valuable things... especially with Gmail's search working so well.

    So I restored everything in the deleted folder, meaning I also activated thousands of spam e-mails I had carefully deleted as well as, well I think I gained 12,000 I had previously intended to kill.

    I appreciate your point James about organizing the archived messages. I do find it helpful to go back, for example, to forward someone a receipt if I later find I misplaced the file, older testimonials when I want to promote an old product - many gems within the old e-mails that come up from time to time.

    Warmly,
    Dan
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