Five hundred emails

I did something recently that I’ve wanted to do for a long time: delete the mountain of emails in my archive that I’ll never revisit.

In total I reduced my Gmail archive from ~48k emails to a number I’ll pretend rounds to five hundred.

Gmail screenshot showing 586 emails

But why?

I’m sure many would think this is a bit odd, so here’s some background on the motivation.

I’ve long recognized my personal desire to minimize and only own what is necessary. This is easy to justify in the physical realm: more stuff means more to move, more to keep track of, more to lose.

In this physical space, I’ve long kept relatively few pieces of physical mail that come my way. Often it goes straight from my mailbox to bin or shredder. Sometimes important things are kept temporarily, very few permanently.

But with email? My default was to archive everything forever. Not seeing the huge piles I had created, I became a digital hoarder.

I began to wonder: why treat these differently? These digital piles were not providing me much value, nor joy. Just like piles of physical mail would provide me no value, nor joy.

Broadly I thought might need some of these emails later, but for many I could safely know that was not true. I was collecting junk. I was collecting emails that were once important but no longer.

It was time to dispose of the junk, the irrelevant, the old. And to me that is the primary driver here: to only keep what I need and truly want. No more. No less.

Any regrets yet?

There is one con in all of this. What is gone is gone forever. I’m sure there’s at least one email I’ll miss. I haven’t encountered this yet, but I’m sure there’ll be some at one point or another! Until then.