How I try to email

My yearly digital tidy and email hygiene reset

  • everything in the inbox(es) as of Jan. 2: mark as read
  • create folder(s) for previous year (2023), if you haven’t already made one1
  • inbox contents go to year folder
  • you’re now at inbox zero; don’t celebrate anything2
  • in settings, give your inbox list view a good body length, maybe 2-4 lines depending on your needs, so you can skim the email without having to open it. do you need to respond? really?
  • every time you check mail
    • unsubscribe. you know how to resubscribe if you really want it.
    • select all, mark as read

Eventually I lose momentum with this practice. But I don’t sweat email that much anymore. There are easy ways to bubble up important messages if you need to, but skimming a few times a day and only digging into the obvious ones that need my attention is a good balance for me. I don’t bother archiving until it gets out of control. Or i’ll just make the 2024 folder.

Red badges drive you crazy? Just disable them. You’ll still have email. How does that badge serve you? Make email work on your time.

  1. i inevitably do this whole process at least one additional time in the year, so i’ve already made the folder in that case. ↩︎

  2. its like counting angels on the head of a pin. are you at inbox zero for a minute? ten minutes? that email train is coming sooner or later. you’re not really in control of your inbox… let it go ↩︎

Eric Brookfield @ericbrookfield