If you are at all like me, your inbox has been, at some point, a disaster zone. Thanks to an essentially limitless amount of storage space, nobody needs to delete anything anymore, so we don't. I don't think this is a good thing. Up until recently I had kept every single e-mail sent to and from my Gmail account, and even transferred all the e-mails from my old Hotmail address. This amounted to nearly 3000 e-mails, some dating back seven years, which for some reason I kept, "just in case" they might come in handy in the future.

Eventually I came to the realization that I probably wouldn't be reopening a bunch of ancient subscription notices and funny kitty pictures. Heck, even the e-mails from last week from friends that seemed relevant now I probably would never need again, thus the purge began. I created two storage folders, one for website memberships with usernames and passwords, and another for the crème de la crème of e-mails that I really didn't want to part with (which amounted to fewer than 10). As a result I achieved a rare state of being for Internet users: inbox zero.

By emptying your inbox you are really uncluttering your mind. It's very similar to cleaning your room, basement, or garage. Immediately there are fewer things that demand your attention, and like a clean room, if you need something you know exactly where to find it. I've also found that the desire to check my e-mail every 15 minutes has diminished greatly. E-mail returns to its rightful place as a tool to exchange information. It is no longer an almost-living entity that requires attention and management. Committing to inbox zero is not easy at first, but once you've deleted 10 or 100 e-mails you will start to feel powerful, the feeling that you are in control. Try it out, most e-mail clients save deleted e-mails for at least a week, and if there is something you must have back then you can retrieve it. But I think you'll find that your empty inbox feels so good you won't want the clutter to return. You can create a folder to save that cherished e-mail from your aunt Merle and your favorite chain letters. But make sure you aren't creating filing system so intricate that you may have been better off just leaving everything in the inbox in the first place.