Email Bankruptcy Averted

As we head into the new year’s eve 2014, I am feeling good about my email for the first time in years.

Thanks to friendly advice from Esther Dyson, I have managed to avoid declaring email bankruptcy and reached an empty inbox.

Email Bankruptcy, for those fortunate who may be unaware of the meaning, is when your email inbox becomes so overwhelmed that you simply delete everything in your inbox and declare all emails void unless sent again.

One source of the problem is Sp**, others include too many newsletters, both solicited and unsolicited. I first covered this topic in 2004, when Bill Gates said that all email problems would be fixed in two years. I did a follow up on the issue in 2006.

The state of my personal email has evolved into perpetual insolvency rather than a declaration of bankruptcy.

As illustrated above, I developed a backlog of unread personal emails that amounted to 95,458 emails at its peak.

While most of these emails were ones that could be recognized as newsletters or non-personal communications via the subject heading, the swamping of emails certainly made me less responsive or, when I missed an email, rude.

For those to whom I did not reply with an email in recent years, I now apologize.

Hopefully you emailed again or via a different channel to get my attention. (Worst case scenario, I have published my mobile phone number on this site for the last 15 years.)

To move from email insolvency to workable inbox without declaring bankruptcy I used Mailstrom, a service recommended by Esther (I do not know if she is an investor or not).

The service analyzes your gmail inbox and suggests what to archive, delete, unsubscribe from or reply to. (Those particularly concerned about privacy issues will want to look closely at the way in which the service interacts with your gmail account.)

The various filters include looking at emails by those people with whom you have exchanged emails, month-by-month, size, etc.

The ease of unsubscribing is fantastic. You have the option to delete all emails from a sender and unsubscribe in a single keystroke. Genius!

A further element they add is gamification. Their charts (shown here) make you feel competitive about clearing your inbox.

I started with an inbox larger than 97% of Mailstrom users, but by going through the categories have managed to clear my inbox down to zero emails.

PS: Please resend your email if I have not replied! I consider all emails to my personal inbox closed off from 2014.

PPS: It will be interesting to see the state of my email one year from now.

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2 comments

  1. Giles Dawe

    Great article. I usually strive to reach 0 emails in my email box, where I keep the most important ones in my Sent Items to replies to the emails I sent out. I don't see the point of keeping emails, feels like unneccesory stress to have things to do or to look at…

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    • grace

      Great article. I usually strive to reach 0 emails in my email box, where I keep the most important ones in my Sent Items to replies to the emails I sent out. I don’t see the point of keeping emails, feels like unneccesory stress to have things to do or to look at…