Over the years I’d accumulated six gmail accounts which I’d used for various things – personal; mrshardly blog, twitter and instagram; professional (mostly linkedin); carolbaby blog; shared with Don; other thing I cannot remember.
In early January I deleted five of them – pretty much without a second thought – but the mother of all of them remained untouched. I’ve had this gmail account for 15 years and was one of the first to get one – way, way back when google wasn’t evil. If you can imagine such a thing.
I’d tried to cleverly control the deluge of stuff into this mailbox with filters and folders – automatically mark emails as read, skip the inbox and put them in a folder. I had some sort of vague idea that I’d read them later. Ha!
So this week as part of the 15th anniversary I decided to finally tackle it. There was a LOT of mail – just under 100,000 emails! Had I actually deleted anything ever?
I set about it by first attacking those carefully designed folders: z_bargains, z_wankery,z_surveys, etc. Why I thought I needed to retain 7 year old adverts and mailing lists is a mystery for another time.
Next step was to trawl through the inbox proper, and searching and then deleting stuff from common senders. I also took the time to unsubscribe from a ton of mailing lists. Why did I invite this garbage into my life?
This took a few solid evenings to get through and by the end I had 84,176 emails in the trash.
What was really, really interesting to me was how from 2004 to about 2006 my email was mostly chat and long letter-style emails with family and friends – then progressively it became a receptacle for junk mail. I rarely get a personal email these days that’s not a quick link – #getoffmylawn
Next up I’ll export the family emails to some sort of archive, redirect what I need to and close up shop by the end of the year.
I know it is not *real* clutter, but I found the process really very freeing.
The title refers to the height the stack of deleted emails would be if they were each one sheet of paper (~168 reams x 5cm).