I have never cleaned out my inbox. There are over 11,419 completely useless and unnecessary emails living in my Gmail accounts. The longer I leave the situation, the larger it grows, and the less inclined I feel to repair the situation. I have missed important notifications from classes and organizations I am involved with because they were buried beneath the multitude of Starbucks rewards updates, Urban Outfitters sale codes, and old “Apply to UT Austin!” emails. My horrified parents see the mess.
“Why are you saving these?”
“What if I accidentally delete something important?”
“Like an expired Jet Blue offer? Or one of the 2005 Mickey Mouse Club fan letters?”
It has become clear that I am a hoarder of sorts. In this digital age, an overflowing inbox is an equivalent of living in a maze of your own stacked, moldy takeout boxes that “could be useful someday”. I have been prompted to try and make a dent in the plethora of e-garbage that swamps my life.
First, I tackle my various email accounts, each made in an attempt to escape the mess of another. A fun trick that I was unaware of, you actually can search for all emails from one sender and then delete them all at once. What a time to be alive! University and blog newsletters are finally cleared out by the hundreds. I track the number on the Gmail app as it drops from 999+ to a plain 999.
After the initial cleaning, I begin to unsubscribe to the email lists I had signed up for based on the empty promises of coupons and free shipping. I methodically say goodbye to the emails from companies with items that are more wishful thinking than anything else. By the time I finish, I am feeling drained, slightly unhappy, and have a realistic mindset, like an adult.
My dad told me that the best way to maintain a clean inbox is to empty out what is unnecessary once per week. I think this is a bit excessive and instead will strive to deal with it once per year. The same way some people begrudgingly sort through the treasure trove of old cross-country skis and broken Christmas decorations that live in their garages, I will sort through an inbox that staggers under the weight of unread messages.
While cleaning is a painful process, it also is a liberating one. I will no longer be stressed about losing an important school email under piles of Patrick Neilson Handshake messages. I am better for it.
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