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Email Overload: Universal Mailbox

Holding onto things, or having a collection of some sort is just part of human nature.

Some people collect trinkets, like teacups, jewelry boxes, snow globes, or dolls. Some collect books, movies, art, games, etc. There aren’t any rules to define what makes something a collection, or listing what items are acceptable to collect.

While I have a couple of collections of different things (books, movies, shoes, lingerie), the strangest “thing” I collect is my assortment of email addresses.

Most people probably only have one or two that they use on a regular basis– one for professional purposes (work, school, etc), and then maybe a second for personal emails or junk mail.

A recent look at my mailbox listing on my phone shows I have a grand total of six accounts. And that doesn’t count my email at work that I can only access from a company computer or remotely through a secure website.

Each account serves a specific purpose, and while I’ve tried to eliminate a few at different times, I haven’t been able to… yet.

With the Universal Mailbox feature (where all of my mail from the various accounts shows up in a single list, and I can move/delete/reply from that list), I have been able to ignore the fact that my messages come from several different accounts and I wasn’t concerned with trying to get rid of old accounts that aren’t used often.

I realize now, that this action is a little silly, so my goal is to eliminate at least two of the “junk mail” accounts, and possibly a third.

Last week, I took the first steps towards deletion, and spent some time sorting out the content that is stored in the folders on the accounts, and clearing out unimportant messages. I also started¬†unsubscribing¬†to the junk mail that has been bogging down my inboxes– I don’t really need to know when stores I’ve only shopped at once are having sales, or have daily alerts about better workout plans that are available for the low price of $19.95/month (or whatever else is trying to be sold via email).

Deciding to no longer receive spam or advertisements has shown a huge difference in my inbox, and I now only receive information that I’ve deemed relevant or important. It’s also made me realize I only need to keep three accounts: one personal (for friends , social networking, and blog related things), one professional, and one miscellaneous (the odd junk mail and iTunes related information, since my Yahoo address will forever be attached to my library and past purchases).

Streamlining my email address collection is a huge step, but I’m hoping that eliminating some of the digital clutter will be beneficial in keeping my focus on other projects. If I’m not constantly checking to see what the alerts are for new messages (and it turns out to be junk), I won’t be wasting as much time on nonsense. That’s the goal anyway.

Having a collection is perfectly fine, but when it gets to a certain point, that collection can seem more like hoarding. Do you have any collections that have gotten out of hand? Did you draw a line and start eliminating things, or let it spiral out of control like the people on the show Hoarders?

Responses (2)

  1. David Barber says:

    If you have a Gmail account you can forward all of your accounts there. You can even setup automatic filters so that personal emails get a “Personal” label, while work would get a “Work” label and so on. Just creating a single point to check all of your email is a huge victory – although I see you’ve done that to some extent with your unified inbox on your phone.

  2. […] few weeks ago, I mentioned my multiple email accounts, and my ongoing project of eliminating some of the unnecessary ones. I’ve made some strides in that area, but it’s still a work in […]

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