Inbox Zero Was Only a Dream — Until Now

How hard was it to just “select all” and delete?

My first problem was too many email accounts. Between Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo, I must’ve had 20. I was so spread out that there was no way I could ever keep track of everything that was sent to me.

Six months ago, I set out to do two things — delete email accounts and stop starting new ones. My quest for minimalism and inbox zero would see me shutter all but three accounts — one personal, one business, and one Microsoft. The personal is a Gmail I use also to set up YouTube channels.

I don’t know if I lost anything important in those accounts, but I haven’t missed anything yet, so I am not going to worry about it.

The next task was to not just take those accounts to inbox zero, but I wanted to clean the promotions and social tabs as well.

My main email account was my oldest and the one I use the most. When I checked it earlier, it had 20,985 emails? Yes. Thankfully, I only had 110 unread.

There are emails going years back that contain tax information, passwords, personal information, and other things I thought I needed, but when I checked, I had all my tax forms saved, and all my passwords are backed up in a handy little program called 1Password. I used to use LastPass, but they recently had a data breach and I feared for whatever data I had left that wasn’t already on the dark web.

More and more I kept finding my accounts in data breaches and I’ve started removing everything that isn’t necessary. All my passwords are randomly generated and stored in my password manager, and if I ever get hacked again, it lets me know so I can change passwords.

So, there shouldn’t have been anything in those 20k emails hanging out on the Gmail server, waiting for someone to come along and dig through the last 10 years of my life.

I created a few folders to save a few recent utility bills and messages from my kids, but everything else, and I do mean everything — I deleted. This is my account now, after an hour. Still just a few hangers-on.

One of the reasons I had so much email is that I sign up for a lot of shit, and that stuff will fill your mailbox after a while. For the past six months, I have been unsubscribing to everything I can, but I still battle the wave of mail I get every day.

I did the same thing to the other two email accounts, which added up to another 5601 emails deleted.

I now have three email accounts at inbox zero and I will never let it get that bad again.

Why Inbox Zero?

For over ten years, I’ve tried to minimize my life. Back in 2011, I sold, trashed, and shredded everything I ever owned and moved to the Philippines. Decades worth of shit that I had been dragging all over the country with me was ditched.

It’s all gone now. I stepped off the plane in Manila with a black suitcase and a laptop, and have spent the last 10 years trying not to hoard anymore.

Every so often, my wife and I will get rid of everything and start over, but it’s been over three years since we have done it and I am noticing that things are piling up.

We have a cabinet full of “important” papers that is bursting at the seams. I keep saying I’m going to pare it down, but I never do. We have two racks of shoes, most unrepairable, but my wife hates throwing stuff away. We have clothes we will never wear again, and I just want to pile it all up, pour a little gas on it, and light a match.

And then there are my computers.

In anticipation of getting the new MacBook, I archived a lot of files from my old Windows laptop that my wife uses and haven’t moved the files over at all.

I started fresh.

But until today, my email was nowhere near where it needed to be. So, I just selected everything and deleted it all. I imagine that six months down the road I am going to discover that I deleted something important, but I will worry about that when the time comes.

It feels go to have only three email accounts. It feels better to have nothing in them.

I am free!

Win one for minimalism!

Introverted essayist and creator- I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up!

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