We all want to control the barrage of emails hurling at us everyday, but often the task is just too daunting. Perhaps, you read Merlin Mann’s Inbox Makeover tutorial or Gina Trapani’s Trusted Trio system for managing email. You might have said, “Wow, this is great and makes a lot of sense. I’m gonna do it now!” Then you turn to your inbox, you see the thousands of emails rotting there, and you end up saying, “Oh shit… that’s a lot of email. I’ll do it later (or never).”
Before you give up hope, there’s an instant way to clear your inbox of old emails in about 30 seconds. Here’s how:
30 seconds to zero
Put it all in one folder:
Create an archive folder
In your favorite email program, create a folder and name it “Archive” followed by today’s date. For example, “Archive_20060822”.
Move everything in your Inbox to the archive
Go to your inbox, select all the email messages and move them into the folder you just created.
That’s it! Your inbox is cleared, and your mind can enjoy the resulting calm. Here’s why I recommend throwing old emails into this single folder instead of attempting to process and organize each message:
You won’t read 95% of it again
Most of the emails festering in your inbox are messages that you’ll never ever read again. So why even bother wasting the mental energy to decide if you should delete each message or not? If you do need an old email later, just use Spotlight on the Mac or Google Desktops on the PC to retrieve it.
An instant clean break from your antiquated system
The longer you spend entrenched in a cesspool of old emails, the less likely you’ll adopt a new system because of the perceived time it will take. Since it’s over in 30 seconds, clearing your Inbox immediately gives you a positive sense of relief and a clean slate to implement a long-term strategy for new emails.
Ok, so you’ve you banished all your old emails, what’s next? You still need to manage incoming email. Since you’ve cleared your inbox, you have no excuse to implement Merlin’s Inbox Makeover or Gina’s Trusted Trio system to process new emails. It takes just a few more minutes (really, it does), so do it now!
For more email tips, check out Merlin’s Inbox Zero series.