Delete Your Email, Stay Sane
It’s becoming a thing of the past to delete your emails. Gmail and other email providers are handing out massive storage limits and with the arrival of the “archive” feature, there really doesn’t seem much point in deleting your emails… except that it’s a bad habit.
I am a heavy email user, I get over 100 emails a day. I send many more than number. In the past, I made a habit of archiving all my emails, creating a backup of all my conversations, making it easy to search back to past email conversations. However, as I review the emails, I estimated that easily half of those emails contained benign messages, not relevant to search, and mostly ones that clogged search results, making it harder to find the important messages.
I’ve created a quick mental checklist for determining if an email should be deleted or archived:
- Do I need to save this email for legal /business reasons? – Will it be needed to clarify communication down the road, does it relate to a contract, bid or NDA, does it contain project related info? If not, it get’s deleted immediately.
- Is the email too complex? – If an email is over 2 paragraphs in length, I will archive it, my short term memory is horrible.
With these two simple questions, I am able to take immediate action on my email and save myself from being an email pack-rat.
I’ve made it a policy of mine to delete any email (or the full conversation) if it is not reference worthy. After using this process for about two months, I’ve found that it has already improved my search ability, and has even made inbox zero a bit easier to attain each day.
Bonus: Limiting Length of Response Messages
One of the best exercises I’ve found for effective email communication is conscious brevity. When I started using the iPad, I found that because of the keyboard, limited responses were ideal. As a person who often writes very long emails (you’ll be nodding your head if you’ve got an email from me), it requires a conscious effort on my part to shorten my emails. However, if you cut down on the adjectives, and stick to the verbs, you’ll find that the extraneous communication that we throw into our emails is often unnecessary.
When appropriate, I try to limit my email responses to 140-200 characters. You’d be amazed at how much quicker tend to respond to your emails when they are that short.
Feedback & Ideas
I’d love to hear feedback on the methods I’ve outlined above as well as your own methods for efficient email communication… comment below or hit me up on Twitter: @SPH!