As with many other innovations designed to make our lives easier, electronic mail has now become a new complication for a number of people. The e-mail account has become the new "in-box" for personal and professional communication, and like its predecessor it appears to grow without ceasing. Some e-mail may contain important or time-sensitive information, while others ask for personal replies or updates. While the e-mail overload can become an 800 pound gorilla for some of us, others have found relief through a process called email bankruptcy.
Declaring email bankruptcy means clearing out an entire email account and starting anew. Email bankruptcy may seem like an extreme action to take, but it can also be a freeing experience for those who feel pressured by accumulating stacks of email. Answering older emails often reduces the amount of time available for other projects and duties.
When declaring email bankruptcy, the first step is to cull all important contact addresses from the existing email folder. These addresses should be copied and pasted into the BCC line of an email addressed to yourself. The message should be short and to the point: "I, John Smith, have declared email bankruptcy. I will be deleting all existing emails from my account. If you have already sent important messages or files to my email address, please send them again.", or words to that effect. The contact list can be saved in a new folder for quick reference.
The next (and some might say the most satisfying) step would be to select all current emails for deletion. This could be several hundred or even thousands of emails, but they will all become electronic history. Of course, the purged account may still receive new emails, but at least you'll have a better opportunity to deal with these new messages as they arrive. Many people with email accounts often discover that many of their older stored messages have little to no relevance, but have been kept on hand primarily out of a sense of obligation.
For those considering email bankruptcy, it is vital to collect the contact information and compose your email declaration before you close out your email account permanently. Some emails can be retrieved electronically by experts, but you should consider most email completely gone after deletion. You may also want to consider moving older emails into a different file for storage instead of your primary inbox folder. This may have the same cleansing effect as an email bankruptcy without completely eradicating older but still relevant emails.