Sunday 19 March 2017

Email zero - stage one complete.

Yesterday I broke the back of the work and achieved something I’d been pursuing since January – finally my email archive is down from 31,000 items to 14. Not 14 thousand, but 14; one four. It is a new take on my email. Something I am calling Email Zero.

Email zero is an idea I had. An idea that I put into action.

If you mix action and an idea and give it a name it becomes a thing. This thing is called email zero and it is new. So new, in fact, that I have not yet managed to achieve 100% email zero as I still have to tackle my “5000 sent items”. However I have managed stage one - clearing the archive.

Think of email zero as being like inbox zero. The only difference is that once you’re done with an email (as a result of do, defer & delete ) you delete the email. You do not archive it, you do not save it. You delete it, forever. This forces your hand to really deal with it.

In email zero you cannot say to yourself “Ok, that’s my car insurance confirmation, I will archive it”, you have to do something with it. Leaving it in your email is not an option. In this case (an actual example btw) I downloaded the policy documents, stored them securely on AWS S3 and added them to my Dropbox1.

I made a few broad strokes a few weeks ago and got the 31K emails down to around 8K and what was left was tough going. Here’s how I processed everything.

If the email was from someone I wanted to remain in contact with, I ensured they were in my contacts list. I will go through my contacts soon and make sure that they are filled with only the people I want to stay in contact with.

If the email contained any form of receipt, I saved that file. I still have to sort a few hundred things. Mostly phone bills and broadband bills.

If the email contained any form of important document such as a payslip, or a P45 or P60, I saved the file. These are super important so they get backed up

If the email contained a photo that I wanted to keep, I uploaded it to my flickr account. I’ve been missing capturing photos recently. I may give flickr another stab.

If the email was somehow important to me, I saved the email into a text file. I am not sure what to do with these conversations. They need to be archived by I am not sure where. For instance, I have kept the all the emails exchanged between myself and Jo whilst we were courting one another. I have saved a few more, but thats for me to know and you to find out.

I’m not quite ready to write a full write up of what email zero is and is not as I have no real concrete idea of where this will take me. But I can tell you that I have completed the first part which is neutralising my inbound archive.

The next part is my sent items – my outbound archive. All of this is part of my digital clear out which stems from my good choices.


  1. I actually gave up using dropbox a few years ago. But in preparing for email zero, I knew I needed some means of storing my car insurance documents so that they could be available with at all times in a secure way. I prepared dropbox before hand by having a digital clear out