If you have an email account, you’re probably one of these three types of people:
- Those who have achieved an empty inbox
- Those who aspire to an empty inbox but haven’t achieved it
- Those who don’t aspire to an empty inbox
Advantages of Having an Empty Inbox
If you have an empty or nearly empty inbox you probably either don’t get many emails, have a system of organization or both. You may have moved important emails to folders you’ve created to stay organized and on top of your inbox. Having an empty inbox can show you’re in control of your life. Pending matters have been dealt with, filed and sorted.
Advantages of Having an Empty Inbox
Some advantages of having an empty inbox:
- Feeling in Control
- Not missing important emails
Why Not Have an Empty Inbox?
But not everyone believes an empty inbox is or should be the ultimate organizational goal. Some people believe in never deleting a single email. Ever.
Many people use their email inbox as a virtual filing system, emailing themselves reminders or important information to be stored there in the Cloud. They can have access to this information from anywhere they are logged into their email accounts. They don’t bother to sort their email messages into folders because they know that searching will help them find what they need.
By not clearing out your email inbox you can keep information that may not seem important now but becomes important later. You may retain email receipts, registration information, messages from people who are no longer in your life, and emails that take you on a nostalgia trip back in time.
You can find a lot of lost information by searching a cluttered inbox using keywords, dates, names of senders, etc. Tools such as Unroll.Me and Boomerang can help you keep control of your inbox as the number of messages continues to multiply daily.
➫ Learn about how to easily unsubscribe from promotional emails you don’t want and get a daily digest for those you do want: Unroll.me – Get Control of Your Inbox!
➫ Find out how to bring emails to your attention later: Boomerang – Put Off Today’s Gmail Until Later.
Advantages of Not Having an Empty Inbox
Those who don’t clear out their inboxes can benefit from:
- Access to information from anywhere
- Free Cloud storage for information
- Not spend time clearing out their inboxes
- Finding information efficiently by searching
Do you have an empty inbox? Vote in The Wonder of Tech poll and let us know:
If you do use your email account to keep important information, be sure to keep it secure. Use 2-Step Verification to protect against others using your password to access your email account. Log out of your account when using a shared computer.
Don’t give your password out to others, especially strangers on the street who have a microphone and a camera:
Achieving an Empty Inbox — Inbox Zero
The concept of Inbox Zero was discussed by Merlin Mann in a Google Tech Talk in 2007. In this video, Mann explains the benefits of Inbox Zero and how to achieve it:
Mann describes Inbox Zero as a cleaning out of not only your inbox but of your mind from the distractions a cluttered email account can bring.
According to Mann in a comment to Inbox Zero: Don’t Believe the Hype, Inbox Zero “is simply to accept that finding the time to check for new mail (or new anything, for that matter) should also mean finding the time to make a simple, one-time decision about what each new item means to you. That’s it. Then you get back to your life. Done. Boom.” He continued, “the real zero in Inbox Zero means having no residual anxiety or distraction about either the unknown unknowns or the known knowns or anything in-between.”
Mann offers helpful suggestions to achieve Inbox Zero in his article, Inbox Zero: Processing to zero at his website 43 Folders.
How Not Having an Empty Inbox Saved Me
I don’t have an empty inbox. I tried, I really did, but I gave up when my inbox surpassed the 10,000 message mark many years ago. Now my personal email inbox is filled with over 40,000 messages.
But having a very full inbox recently saved me so I became glad I hadn’t been purging its contents. Last week my laptop computer, a/k/a The Beast, died an ugly death. No worries, I got an AppleCare warranty after I purchased my 17″ MacBook Pro in August 2012. So I brought The Beast into the Genius Bar at the Apple Store for repair where I was told that it needed a new graphics card. I was also informed that they had no record of AppleCare being purchased for my computer.
Oops. Although I had purchased AppleCare for The Beast, it turns out I hadn’t registered my computer when I purchased AppleCare. I had previously bought AppleCare for many products I had purchased from Apple, including an iPod Touch and my previous iPhones, but because I purchased my MacBook Pro from Amazon instead of Apple I was supposed to register AppleCare for my computer. I guess I was too busy playing with my new toy to pay attention to such important details.
The Genius kindly informed me that if I could provide proof of purchase for AppleCare that I could call and get The Beast registered. Apple sends a box with AppleCare information when you purchase the protection and the Genius advised me to try to find that box.
I tried to find the Apple Care box. No luck.
I tried searching my email inbox for “AppleCare” in 2012. No luck. Uh oh.
I then searched for emails from @apple.com from August 2012. I found an email with the shipping information for Apple Protection Plan for MacBook Pro (apparently the coverage wasn’t called AppleCare back then). The shipping information included the order number for my purchase.
I called the phone number for AppleCare given to me by the Genius and sure enough, an AppleCare representative was able to locate my order using the order number from the email and she registered AppleCare to my laptop.
Not having deleted that email saved me over $300.
I clearly could do better though, in clearing out my inbox. Not every saved email will save me $300 (though it would be great if that were true!). Many, if not most, emails in my inbox could be deleted without worry.
Perhaps a good resolution for 2015 would be to get better control of my inbox…
Are you a fan or foe of having an empty inbox? Has finding an old email ever saved you money and/or aggravation? Do you spend a lot of time trying to manage your email inbox? Have you tried Inbox Zero? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below. If you’re brave enough, share with us the number of emails currently in your inbox!
* Dangerous Inbox image (edited) courtesy of Recrea HQ via Flickr and Creative Commons