In an ideal world, we'd process all of those mails. But at some point, the shear volume of unprocessed messages becomes overwhelming. Just opening up your mail creates a drag on your psyche... you see those unprocessed emails, think you "should" process them, and feel guilty that you haven't.
Sometimes, you may even derail your day's plans by starting to process those mails. And after a while, you realize that you still have an overwhelming number of unread emails, and you didn't accomplish what you set out to do today. An now you feel even worse.
So what can you do?
One option is to declare "email bankruptcy." Email bankruptcy is an admission that you're not going to process those emails (at least right away). So you move them out of your Inbox, and get the Inbox back to a manageable number of mails.
And once you process those, you'll find that the coveted "Inbox Zero" is truly possible. When you're not encumbered by the guilt and overwhelm of thousands of unread emails in your Inbox, it's much easier to process each day's mail and get to Inbox Zero every day.
So how do you declare Email Bankruptcy?
Here's my simple process:
- Locate all emails over a certain age. I find that declaring bankruptcy for emails over about 45 days works pretty well for most of my clients.
- Label those emails with a label that indicates they were part of the bankruptcy plan. Something like "OldMail-Before<date> usually works well. (This will let you access those mails later if you need to).
- Archive those mails. They'll now be out of the Inbox, but they can still be found by using Gmail search or using the label.
It's really that simple!
The following video illustrates this process:
Have you declared email bankruptcy? Are you ready to? Please let me know in the comments below.