I am an email hoarder. I admit it. The proof is in my gmail account, which reads "9.26 GB (61%) of 15 GB used."
That is a lot of email. Some of it is junk that I'm in the process of deleting, but much of it I want to keep. It's just that when my unread messages hit triple digits—many of those messages, by the way, I read but then marked unread as a way to know I need to revisit them—it's time for some serious email intervention, if only for my peace of mind.
Here are some techniques that work well, when I take the time to use them: setting up filters for emails that I don't need to read right away (e.g., blogs I subscribe to), being ruthless about unsubscribing to promotional emails, and once a month going to "inbox zero," even if it means sweeping armfuls of emails into an "under the bed" folder.
But let's face it: cleaning up email is no more fun than cleaning one's dorm or house, which is why Jesse Stommel offers a couple of creative ways to "gamify" the process in his recent Profhacker post, "How to Crowdsource and Gamify Your E-mail":
"I processed all the e-mail to zero and managed to figure out what I had to do the next day in the process. Then, just for fun, I did 'Thursday' before moving on to more topical queries. I announced my new game on Facebook and Twitter and folks began to join in the fun by throwing queries my way like 'budget,' 'legislature,' 'DH,' and 'zombie'. My personal favorite was 'pudding'.. Read More
Here is one final reminder for students: You may not want to check or be in the habit of checking and replying to email regularly, but it is a necessary habit and skill both at school and on the job. Most important, keep an eye on your MSOE email capacity and clean it up regularly so that your full inbox doesn't reject that one important message from a professor about what will be on next week's midterm exam.