39 days and counting… zero inbox, easily

I made some new year resolutions where first goal was to decrease amount of stuff. One of the really Good Things I did was that I reworked my use of email. Currently I do this:

  • I have secondary Google mail account, and primary gameproducer mail account
  • All newsletter subscriptions, announcements, and stuff goes to google mail (if you email press@ or contact@ or whatever, all goes there).
  • I removed almost all newsletter subscriptions that I could: I concluded those are close to pointless. I use other things like Twitter to hear about the important stuff.
  • I bought iPod Touch and use the default Mail program.
  • Whenever I get emails, I mainly move them to Trash.
  • If there’s something that I can consider, I reply there right away.
  • Project related emails go to my project folder (named “Zombies”), I have only one of these.
  • I have no “archived”, all that goes to Trash.
  • 98% I check email while sitting on sofa, I never check it during the day. I also have IMAP account on my main desktop computer for the reason that sending large attachments is easier that way. I think I’ve sent less than 5 emails (or so) via main computer, all goes mainly through iPod Touch.

Conclusions is: get mobile device for IMAP emails, have 2 accounts, don’t archive anything – trash ’em, have one project folder, never check email while working, remove all junk.

This has worked tremendously well for me, and I think it’s now possibly 39th day with clean inbox and I feel I haven’t put any effort on this. It just stays clean, I don’t “try to keep it clean” or take any pressures. It just stays empty.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Please notice that things stay in Trash folder for some time (month or whatnot), where you can search them. I guess it doesn’t matter if you have one Trash or one Archive folder. It servers the same purpose (Inbox + Project folder + Archive/Trash) would be the system.

    I used to think bit like you, but now I’m doing this:

    Sisters flight: calendar reminder (Or if it’s soon – within few days – that could remain in the Inbox, or you could simply ask your sis via cellphone when you really need that)

    User names: separate file/system for these

    Contrator’s mailing address: either Contacts info or go to Project folder. If you have smartphone, have it there (smartphone can be used for emails too)

    Friend phone number: in cellphone

    Blizzard newsletter structure: you can subscribe to their list in the future if you really need that. Which you won’t. :)

  2. I use gmail for all my email, even my yahoo email is POP3’d into my gmail box. It’s hard for me to imagine using email without archive and search and instead trashing everything. I archive everything, and I do mean everything: newsletters, ads, along with notes from friends. The only things I don’t archive is when I press the “Report Spam” button. If I trashed everything I would lose important reference material, notes etc. What times was my sisters flight again? What was my user name for the website? What was my contractor’s mailing address? What was my friend phone number? How does Blizzard structure their newsletters? Being able to archive emails with all this type of information saves me the time and trouble of coping it somewhere else to save. The email archive IS my filing system.

  3. 1) “Later is important” = never happens. Plus: trash can be cleaned once per month or some other frequency.

    2) All emails get trashed, if there is important you reply/do something. If not, trash. It’s easy decision to do when you get used to it.

  4. I’d reconsider trashing instead of archive. Two points: 1) It is easy to search for an archived item you discover later is important, trash is gone forever. 2) You are having to make the decision to keep or trash on every email, better to just archive automatically and not have to make the decision.

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