Home sick today.. It’s a lousy day to be sick, as tomorrow I’m supposed to run a half-marathon and today is the day most of the rest of my software team is off. Read that as: no meetings, great day to code day. Instead I’m home, laptop in my bed, puttering away whilst keeping my head not quite upright so it doesn’t feel like it’ll explode.
So, what’s a gal to do in such a situation? Clean out her email backlog! I’m not an inbin zero kind of gal… I file some emails away, delete a good number, but somehow the pile still generally stays. There’s too much useful info there, and I long since discovered if I tried to file things away, I’d have to clean out however many other files, rather than one big inbin. So instead my goal is to just keep it below some threshold number. Over time that number’s changed. For my personal email bin (the worst offender), right now the target number is 7700. Every so often, I’ll try to decrease it by 100. The number used to be 8000 something before, so I’m making progress.
How do I have 7700 emails worthy of keeping, you ask? Well, I don’t, I’m sure. I have 7700 emails that were mostly at one point worthy of keeping. Many have degraded in value since then, but the effort to go clean out the ones that aren’t valuable is more than the cost to me of having 7700 emails. I have emails in which I get told my grandmother passed away and what the funeral arrangements are. That’s now 4 years ago. My memory’s faulty, but my email history isn’t, so I can go back and check the timeline and particulars. I have emails in which I get back acceptances to speak at conferences. Again, my memory’s faulty, so I use those emails to go back and remind myself – what year, what topic… I have emails that have information I meant to read sometime and never got around to. Some of that information is now stale, some isn’t, etc, etc.
So I accept my email pile. I actively prune both new and old emails. Since I started writing this post, I’ve gotten 6 more messages, which push me over 7700. I’ll prune back down below, and go back through the old pile and try to give myself some headroom by pushing it down to, say, 7650. By later today, though, I’m sure I’ll have to compress it again.
It’s my own email garbage collection strategy. Trading off the cycles required to do the collection and cleanup for time to do more useful things.