Deleting Everything Is Not A Solution For Your Overflowing Email Inbox

Deleting Everything Is Not A Solution For Your Overflowing Email Inbox

I casually announced on Twitter and Facebook yesterday that I had 600 emails to get through before my inbox was empty. The most popular response? I should select everything and hit delete. This is why I didn’t.

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Yes, I get that most of those comments were made with tongue at least partially in cheek. Nonetheless, the notion that it’s easier to delete everything after a holiday break was surprisingly prevalent.

There are circumstances where declaring email bankruptcy can make sense. However, coming back to work after 10 days off is not one of those times. I always knew that there would be a backlog of messages to check on my return, and I scheduled some time accordingly.

Sorting through the messages actually didn’t take that long. I used my long-standing approach of sorting everything by sender and had the entire thing cleared in around an hour.

Inbox zero isn’t for everyone. If you’re happy to have messages stacked up in your inbox and ignore them until someone asks about them, that can be a reasonable approach. But I’ll take the satisfaction of knowing I’ve dealt with everything I need to and have more time to deal with the next unexpected message.


  • Ugh! I’m very glad you didn’t. I’ve found that the people who tend to do the mass deletions also tend to be the least reliable. They’re almost as bad as those who don’t even read an email until they have time.

    The vast majority of email is unnecessary or small amendments and updates to previous emails. Each email isn’t something massive and new. At least look at it briefly so it can be prioritized and acted upon appropriately.

    Pretending something isn’t there doesn’t make it go away. Reality doesn’t work like that. By doing so you’re only making things worse not only for you but for the others involved as well.

  • It’s one of the worst narcissistic behaviours to just delete emails like that way – or pretend that the email has all been lost. I’ve heard that so many times from people whose mail is backed up nightly by their employers.

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