The Never Empty Inbox

Thousands of emails had piled up in my inbox while I turned the other way, hoping they’d disappear on their own. Literally thousands…3,508 to be exact, spread evenly over my 3 email categories in gmail.

“How did I let it get this bad?” I thought.

The emails got unwieldy because I hadn’t wanted to read all of them the moment they arrived, but there were a bunch of articles I one day wanted to get to and read. “One day,” I thought, “I’ll have all this extra free time and I’ll want to read some of these fascinating articles.”

When I was in LA last week, I brought my computer and followed Jane to her job at the library. “I’m going to use this time to delete all my emails,” I said. And I did just that, sitting next to her deleting while she worked. In about an hour and a half, I’d gotten the emails down to 2,508..or somewhere around there.

Another hour later, and I’d gotten smarter and unsubscribed from a bunch of mailing lists…”maybe this will stop the craziness next time,” I thought. Some of the lists were hard to unsubscribe from…but most actually had a pretty clear unsubscribe button on the bottom of their emails. “I should have done this sooner.”

When I got back from LA, I still had over 1000 emails. I felt overwhelmed…was I going to have to go through all of it and find the good articles while deleting the bad? The anxiety deepened, and in one fell swoop, I did something I’ve never done before. I checked all the emails in every category and pressed ‘archive.’

Screenshot 2014-12-09 17.41.50

Suddenly everything vanished. I had an empty inbox and lots of time. And my anxiety was gone.


I didn’t miss the articles. I wasn’t nostalgic for the clutter. All I saw was an empty inbox and lots of peaceful time ahead. I felt the same way as when I moved and gave away 13 garbage bags full of stuff- I felt happy for more space and I never missed the belongings. Why did I ever have all that stuff to begin with?

Take the plunge.

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