If your email inbox is a mess and you dread cleaning it out, know that you're not alone. This kind of "digital hoarding" can be remedied, says Microsoft as they promote Hotmail's clutter-busting tools with a campaign featuring both psychology and tech tips.Hotmail introduced its inbox-clearing "Sweep" function last year, and this year Microsoft is again trying to offer email intervention — with Hotmail, of course, and advice from Dr Robin Zasio of the A&E series "Hoarders".
The Hotmail Sweep PR page cites survey results demonstrating this crisis:
The average American has three different email accounts and an average of 200 unread messages per person. [...]Sixty percent of people surveyed said the amount of junk and low-priority email (such as newsletters and shopping promotions) they receive is problematic, while 70 percent of respondents said they feel they are missing important messages amid all the clutter. Still, many people also said they are convinced they will one day get through all of the messages in their inboxes.
Putting it into a psychological perspective, Dr Zasio says that people may have anxiety about deleting emails and "feel overwhelmed by uncertainty as messages pile up".
Some of the advice she offers to regain control of your inbox are Hotmail-centric, naturally, such as using the "Sweep" feature, but you can also apply the organisation tips in other email programs — consolidating all your email accounts into one, for example, and using conversation views and filtering.
The multiple email accounts issue struck a chord with me, as I've been somewhat managing two personal email accounts and multiple work email accounts as well. One of the personal accounts I've just kept around as a sort of spam/less important email filter, but since webmail programs have such robust filtering tools, it probably is time to let go.
Dr Zasio assures us that it's OK. Email pile-ups may not be entirely our fault (and not necessarily the same as a true disorder).
Are you an email packrat or do you have email intervention tips? Share them with us in the comments. Photo by Bobbie
Windows Live Hotmail Helps Users Control Email Clutter [Microsoft via GeekWire]