I'm still reading Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and working through the exercises. In my research, I noticed a couple of tidiers who added their computer and/or electronic life to their list of categories to tidy up. Initially, I didn't think of adding this to my list, but for some strange reason, I suddenly decided to Kondo my email account this weekend.
THE STATE OF MY EMAIL ACCOUNT BEFOREHAND
I've had my email account for a long time, over 15 years. In that time, I've received a lot of emails! I thought I had set up a smart system for dealing with them. I have folders for different types of emails and I set up 'rules' for them. For example, all emails from knitting and crochet newsletters that I subscribe to went straight to my 'Crafts' folder. Ditto for recipe newsletters and emails from Etsy. I had folders for storing things like receipt emails from Paypal. Emails I wanted to read or action straight away stayed in the Inbox. I also had various deletion rules set up such as "delete emails from __ after 3 days".
I thought I had it all sorted out. But when I had a really good look at my email account, I realised it was a mess. I had a folder called 'To Read Soon' which had emails from 2007 in it! Some of the folders had over 2,000 emails in them! Despite regular attempts to clear my inbox out, I had trouble keeping it under 500 emails. Some of them were over 5 years old. This system was clearly not working.
WHAT I DID TO CLEAR IT OUT
* I deleted all of the rules -- all 150 of them! That way, all of the emails come straight to my inbox -- there's nowhere for them to hide. I can decide then and there if I want to read them or not. There were a lot of rules pertaining to newsletters I don't subscribe to anymore, so it was good to clear those out as well. Also, I don't get to check my email that often anymore, so I might have been missing out on some that are set to be deleted after 3 days.
* I deleted a lot of old emails. That newsletter about Virtual Libraries from 10 years ago? I'm not sure that's going to be so relevant anymore. I deleted those without even looking at them. The 100 unread emails I still had from Etsy Success which I subscribed to when I had my Etsy shop? The one which I closed down in 2008? All gone.
* I deleted any paypal receipt emails or purchase confirmations that were more than a year old. I then combined this folder with the one where I keep my website signup confirmations and other similar useful emails. I might need to go through this folder manually so that I don't accidentally delete anything important.
* I unsubscribed to a lot of other newsletters that I'm not interested in anymore, either. I unsubscribed to Fine Cooking newsletter because, even though I like collecting recipes, I have a backlog of over 2,000 emails from them, and that's enough recipes for anyone! I'm still thinking about whether to delete many of the older ones without looking at them.
* I amalgamated some of the folders and renamed them to make things more streamlined and less ambiguous. For example, instead of 'Crafts', I have 'Craft Courses' and 'Art Courses'. Now that the craft emails are coming directly to my inbox, I'll either read or delete them straight away. If they relate to an e-course I've signed up to, then I'll move them to the folder. Hopefully this will make me think about which emails to save instead of automatically saving all of them.
I deleted nearly 3,000 emails this weekend, but I still have a long way to go.
* Just like Marie Kondo's rule that your house tidy-up must be finished within 6 months, I want to have my email tidied within that time also. I will spend half an hour a week tidying my email account until it's in tip-top shape!
* If there are still any unread newsletters after 6 months, well, they just weren't meant to be read. If I find that old newsletters are sitting in my inbox or other folders unread, I will delete them and consider unsubscribing.
* I guess "Inbox Zero" is the ultimate, but I'm a bit too daunted to make that one of my goals at this stage!