Chasing the Elusive Inbox Zero

Computer screen with envelopes flying everywhere in chaos.
Overflowing email is a very real threat. To my sanity.

Hast seen the Inbox Zero?

Herman Melville. Probably. If he had a Gmail account.

“Inbox Zero” is a new term to me. I learned it on Monday of this week, the same day I realized my Gmail inbox was Out. Of. Control. I know an empty inbox isn't as rare as Captain Ahab's very large and pale object of passion, but it is for me.

I've always kept emails, often as an aid to my poor-to-nonexistent memory for dates. Also because I'm a genealogist. And a librarian.

Card catalog drawers
“It belongs in a museum!” said me about everything I've ever owned.

As a result of that keeping mentality (Not using the word “hoarding.” That's hurtful.), I had 65,000 +/- emails in my Gmail account. We'll leave my work account aside for the nonce.

Let that number sink in for a moment.

Sixty. Five. Thousand. Emails.

That was roughly 10 gigabytes of the generous free 15 gig Google grants us.

I've searched in the past for a solution, without success. Clearly.

On Monday, either my Google-Fu was strong or I got lucky or Jesus was tired of listening to me complain about it. I found…a solution! (cue triumphant horn riff)

Note: This post now shifts to blatant commercial mode. Except this is just free publicity for the company. I don't make anything off of it. If you don't count happiness.

I found Clean Email. Clean Email is a web app available for desktop, mobile and tablet and works with a wide range of email programs.

Clean Email groups your emails into broad categories (Quick Clean, Auto Clean, Read Later, etc.) as well as filtered categories (Top Senders, Mailing Lists, Online Shopping Emails, Finance, etc.), which I find easier to manage. You can further filter by age of email, status, or starred. I use age of email almost exclusively. Then you can trash the group of 'em, mark to block, mark as unread, or even browse through and keep some. You can even unsubscribe right there in the app.

Good news/bad news:

My inbox is now at 28,551 emails.

I know that's still huge, but it's a bunch of percent less! (My calculator app makes it 43.9% less.) That's as of about 10:30 a.m. today, Thursday. I started, as you may recall, on Monday. Granted, the process is not quick. But it doesn't overwhelms me as going through them one by one does.

I'll write another post soon with some tips on using it.

Here's how I feel about the search for Inbox Zero:

“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”

Herman Melville for realzies

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