Feature Friday: Archive All

I just went and archived all the unread email in my inbox. I do this from time to time. It is the only way I can get to inbox zero. In the past I have called it email bankruptcy, but since I am archiving the email, it's not really bankruptcy. It is more like out of sight, out of mind. It's still there but just not begging to be opened.

Actually what I do is archive all mail in my priority inbox, keep all my starred emails, and permanently delete all mail in the rest of my email inbox.

I figure if I haven't replied in a week, I am never going to reply. So it's out of my inbox and into the archives or into the trash.

It's a great feeling to do this. But gmail doesn't make it easy to do. You can archive a page full of email (50 at a time). Or you can create a filter and archive all the filtered mail. I would love a button that says "archive all mail in your priority inbox" and another that says "delete everything else". But I don't expect google is going to give us those buttons any time soon. Maybe google labs will.

When you have archived all the mail in your priority email, you get this message:

Inbox zero

Woohoo! is exactly how I feel. And you can get that feeling without actually reading all the important messages in your inbox. Which is why Archive All is the feature of the week this friday


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Doesn’t Google have an auto-archive? ย Outlook used to have that, and that was the only way not to bloat your Inbox.ย What do you mean by bloating btw? It’s all in the cloud anyways. You could keep opening what’saim priority & ignore the rest unless you want to search for it, no?ย 

    1. fredwilson

      I have a 35gig limit on my gmail box. I have had to move old mail to a new mailbox just to stay below that limit

      1. William Mougayar

        I see. Is the archived email still easily searchable?

        1. fredwilson

          Yes. Its in a delegated inbox

          1. Fernando Gutierrez

            Another way to do it is using Cloud Magic. It lets you search in several Google accounts (and other services). It has a Chrome extension that creates a second search box in gmail that search in all the accounts you set up. I uninstalled it some time ago because it was too wonky, but tried again after the founder talked about it here some time ago and it’s great now.

  2. Gary Chou

    This sounds more like a Fun Friday post. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      True. It was fun.

      1. kidmercury

        every post is fun here in fredland!

  3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    I agree with @garychou:disqus It looks like fun friday … and so here is another fun friday email account handling.Another easy way to do Woohoo is … don’t ever login to your email account … Woohoo everyday.On the funny side again … i saw this picture and thought share it…

    1. William Mougayar

      Funny. +1

    2. Shyam Subramanyan

      Ha Ha!

  4. takingpitches

    The precise moment of being in the present. No past. No future.It’s yoga for the inbox.

    1. fredwilson

      Ooooh. In love it.

    2. awaldstein

      I wrote my comment below at the same time. You’ve expressed this perfectly! Thanks.

    3. Anne Libby

      It’s the promise of GTD…if only.

    4. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      like that … for me flushing out all the mails into archive is more like the state of ‘maya’. for the inbox from a supernatural power (fred).

    5. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      good one!

    6. Matt A. Myers

      Upvoted. I like yoga, quite a lot, and I am strongly thinking of doing an archive all – though I feel I shouldn’t quite yet…

  5. awaldstein

    The calm that happens when whatever you do next isn’t being laid out for you by tasks already in process.Been refusing to be led by my phone for a few hours each day lately.Basically, it you call or text me, I pay attention but refusing to let the ‘check and see’ instinct rule. I want to lead my my own actions not be led by the really long tail of past ones.

    1. William Mougayar

      Great discipline. Another good habit is to only check email 2-3 times per day at specific times.

      1. awaldstein

        Actually takes some focus.Duh…why is it so hard to realize that just being busy is not the same as getting anything done ;)I love the social web. It’s a drug with benefits. And a time sink unless managed.

        1. William Mougayar

          Same discipline should apply to the social web, but it’s more difficult to adhere to because it’s more addictive. We do social because we want to, not that we “have to”. With Email, you “have to”.I’m coining a new term- Conversation mail.

          1. awaldstein

            They are really not separate in my mind.Email and text are simply extensions of the social web. If I turn off all my alerts, maybe the distinction holds.The web is bipolar in some ways. It gives everyone the leadership role to build a community and network around them by articulating and narrating our thoughts.It also creates a herd affect where there is much connecting chatter that it sucks you into the crowd and down the road.You can’t lead and follow equally.

          2. Fernando Gutierrez

            Another difference between social and email is that in social is assumed you don’t read everything in your streams, while with email you are expected to.

          3. William Mougayar

            True for the noisy social streams, but not necessarily for the conversational part of it, e.g. the responses and discussions from online commenting systems and social networks where you’re really engaging yourself. Real engagement on the social web is a lot more rewarding from an ROI point of view.

          4. Fernando Gutierrez

            That’s true. I already feel the pressure to answer to your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

          5. William Mougayar

            Lol. Good come back ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Tom Labus

    some kind of content analysis that grabs good stuff and auto dumps the rest.

  7. JimHirshfield

    Inbox Flush

    1. Anne Libby

      The “flush” metaphor came to mind recently, considering the variety of items put into email every day. Recipients are at the tail end of a “flush” every day — and then sort through the results to get what’s actually needed. Yes, filters help. Not enough.The email experience is almost as 1.0 as it was back in the days of Prodigy…sigh.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Inbox Pivot?

      1. Tyler Hayes


    3. jason wright

      I’m glad I’d already had breakfast.

  8. William Mougayar

    It’s mind-boggling there is no auto-archive on Gmail, past a certain date.Has anyone tried the new Outlook.com?

    1. Tom Labus

      Yes, have been using it for a few months now for personal mail, calendar and SkyDrive.I like it a lot. The slimmed down approach is very nice.

      1. William Mougayar

        Will it make a dent into gmail’s market share or it’s just a way to keep hotmail afloat?

        1. Tom Labus

          This doesn’t seem like a defensive move to me.

          1. William Mougayar

            So, it’s an offensive move vs. GMail?

      2. K_Berger

        How’s the mobile experience? I grabbed an email account but haven’t actually tried using it. I’ve heard good things about SkyDrive lately.

        1. Tom Labus

          Mobile is fine and SkyDrive is great.

  9. Bruno_dR

    Always great to have a “clean inbox” without any unread messages, altought in your case it seems you are emptying the inbox and having your old emails under your label “folders”.I used to do that, however I dont anymore as my mobile gmail app (Nexus 4 or 7 for me), always take a little bit longer to search in the label folders, therefore I have then under each label but still in the inbox to search in a quicker fashion.

  10. jason wright

    that fleeting moment of karma, the woohoo!

    1. fredwilson


      1. jason wright

        black defines white, white defines black.the ying and the yang. they can’t be separated.

  11. Phil Anderson

    I’m a huge fan of Inbox Zero, but this method seems like cheating. Also it makes me cringe that these are unread emails, how do you know if something important was in there?I try to take care of things as they come in, usually in just a glance I categorize something as 1) Not worth any reply or action, and delete it 2) Worth a quick reply (in which case I reply instantly) 3) Worth a thoughtful reply or requires action (these are the biggest preventers of Inbox Zero for me)

    1. fredwilson

      There is absolutely something important in there. Possibly the next Twitter. It tortures my mind

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        You have refused that option before, but hiring someone to scan all those emails sounds less painful to me than mind torture!! I know you won’t, but had to say it ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Tyler Hayes

          No reason to be tortured โ€” important is subjective and relative at any given moment.If I had to visit a family member in the hospital, no one would complain about my archiving their emails and saying “Sorry, this just isn’t important. I won’t be responding to this.”There’s nothing wrong with saying straight-up no. Not “email me again in a week”. Not a feature that alerts people when I’ve deleted their emails before responding. Just “No. This is not important.”My mom has a quote up in her house that says:”Don’t sweat the small stuff.It’s all small stuff.”Life is short. The best we can do is make the most of it.

      2. takingpitches

        An observation, completely without judgment:I think I remember you writing recently that you read every comment on AVC. I may be imagining all this, but I think the reason for this was that people took the time to engage on the site. That is great and heroic.But then, a little bit of a contradiction to not read the emails, since people took the time there. Is it that the emails just overwhelm in magnitude the number of comments on the site? I imagine that is probably the case.But missing the next Twitter is somewhat of a scary thought!

        1. LE

          “not read the emails, since people took the time there.”The issue isn’t reading the email I would imagine.The issue is replying to the email. That not only takes time but would then possibly get another email that has to be handled if the reply was not to the satisfaction of the sender.You will notice that Fred doesn’t reply to every comment. And if he does the reply is typically nominal. [1] And it generally isn’t in a way that provokes further interaction with the commenter (which would end up requiring further reply by Fred or time). All this varies I’m sure with how busy Fred is as well. I rarely see Fred comment in the negative or at least in a way that will make the commenter reply back and start a fight.Otoh, generally, people writing to Fred are most likely needing something from him or trying to sell him something. As such, according to the rule of sales, it is not the obligation of the buyer (Fred) to make a reply (citation necessary).[1] Examples:”Nice tip. Thanks!!!!!!!!!””Ooooh. In love it.””Yup” (not on my screen now but it will be today some time)”True. It was fun.””Thanks”

          1. takingpitches

            Agree that Fred can’t reply to all or most emails. My comment is about unread emails, and missing out on something because of that.

          2. LE

            I actually “missed” that part of your comment since the rest of the comment (from a quick read) seemed to be speaking more of the contradiction “people took the time”. My mistake.Fred has written in the past about the fear he has of missing the next twitter. But the truth is I don’t think that you know when you’ve come upon the next twitter. I think you invest in a number of things that are unpredictable (stuff at the fan) and then the next twitter happens. There are to many things beyond your control. I mean who could predict that Oprah would talk about twitter, that celebrities would begin to use twitter, that the mainstream media would embrace twitter, and that foreign governments would be impacted by twitter?In order for those things to happen there are contingencies that the above depends on that are totally unpredictable. The type of investing that Fred appears to do is not “this additive will save a car 50% of the cost of gas and here is the scientific proof to document that savings and by the way this was developed by top researchers at MIT”. I would imagine investing in 10 of those ideas would yield more than 1 or two hits. It’s actually just as probable that a twitter wouldn’t happen as it would happen.

          3. Wavelengths

            I notice, too, that the friendly interaction here among the whole gang pretty much assures that no one feels overlooked, even if Fred didn’t check in on that one person’s comment.

        2. jason wright

          people need to learn how to write (emails) if they want to get a reply

      3. Donna Brewington White

        If the next Twitter is missed because you didn’t read your email then there are probably bigger reasons it won’t be the next Twitter. An unread email is a small obstacle in the scheme of things.Although I admit that the few times I’ve sent emails to in demand VCs I have been shocked at how quickly I’ve received a response. And I’m not even the next Twitter… although I am learning enough at AVC that I could be.If someone really has a compelling reason to reach out to you, don’t you think they would find a way? Even if it means leaving a comment on AVC to tell you to look for their email. That seems to work. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. fredwilson

          That doesn’t give me solace

      4. David Petersen

        Mental note: If I ever want to get Fred’s attention, put “Possibly the next Twitter” in the email subject.

        1. fredwilson

          Its been tried. Whatever is the next Twitter will not be promoted as such

  12. harvestgrand

    I just did this the other day too. Here is a tip to delete more messages then are displayed”Click the link at the top of the list that says, “Select all conversations that match this search.” This will make sure you have selected even the messages that don’t fit on the page.”http://www.wikihow.com/Clea…

    1. fredwilson

      Nice tip. Thanks!!!!!!!!!

  13. Trish Fontanilla

    I have mixed feelings about the inbox zero situation. I get it. You want to take control and not be controlled by text. But I can’t help but feel a slight pang of being disrespect towards the people that took time to write you an email. You’ve declared yourself too busy, your time more important, and now they have to follow up with you. I wish there was a signal to let off, like back in the AOL days, when someone deleted your email without reading you knew. Receipt or not. That way neither parties would waste any time. Or a message that said if I don’t respond to you in 2 weeks, try again. haha I get it, you’re probably flooded with email, but at the same time I would never do it. Then again, I’m super honest when people email and I give them permission to bug me about it if I don’t respond.I do use the send and archive button… but that would require you responding to your emails before archiving. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. That’s right. And that’s why I often confess publicly about it. My catholic upbringing at work. Bless me blog readers I have sinned

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        we used to pray during my school days .. i think I studied in catholic school.. i am not sure…everyday morning we start with the prayer … if i remember correctly one of the sentence goes like this…” For who does not know what sin he committed … please god forgive him”with that logic … all school children’s prayer today will take care of your sin.P.S. Am i right … if yes … then i have to give a Wohoo to my self and my memory … it was some 40 years back.

      2. Trish Fontanilla

        Haha… and my Catholic guilt has me responding to everyone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. leigh

          My Jewish guilt just gives me a belly ache most of the time ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. ShanaC

            my Jewish guilt makes me a pushy Jewish girl?

          2. LE

            It’s “jew broad” not “jew girl”. Get it right.

          3. AbbeyPost

            Ahh LE. I’ve missed you.

          4. LE

            Well thanks. (I can now think of a million funny inappropriate things to say but I will stay out while I am ahead.)In honor of you though my brain just came up with an idea for @disqus to further engagement on a blog. Hope JimHirshfield is reading.There should be a button on blogs where readers can “check in”. It can simply be a way to say “I’m here” in the case of readers such as yourself that visit but never make a comment. So when you click the button it makes a note and then there is a scroll at the top or bottom that says “here are the people who stopped by today”. The blog owner already has this with cookies but the readers of the blog don’t have any way of knowing that people who make their first comment might have been reading for years. I find info like that interesting.

          5. ShanaC

            cookies are at least semi-anonymous

          6. AbbeyPost

            I like that idea.

          7. ShanaC

            why is it jewish broad. Where I am from is it a Jewish girl. Or an Aidel Maidel (but I can’t promise I’m all that Aidel). You’re a girl until you get married. Then you are a young lady until you have kids. Then a woman after that.(http://www.frumsatire.net/l… – about the term aidel. and probably the reason I am not aidel is I hang out here :p )

          8. Wavelengths

            I love etymology, glossaries, and dictionaries of all kinds. Thanks for adding to my collection of significant references. This is great!

      3. takingpitches

        Haha. Though not Catholic, I went to Catholic schools until college. My family was very devout in our religion — one also with a long list of things not to do with the promise of punishment in the after-life. So I had that to contend with when I got home from school. A double dose of guilt — both Western and Eastern — growing up, until college!

        1. LE

          I went to Quaker schools and I’m not quaker. We had “meeting for worship”. People just stood up and said shit. You could close your eyes and nap if you wanted. But it was actually interesting to listen to people’s stream of consciousness. Much better than synagogue and all those repetitive prayers.

          1. takingpitches

            the guilt in Catholic school was really in grammer school with the nuns and the constant threat of hell.I went to Jesuit high school — which was much more freeflowing and full of debate — where the guilt subsided almost completely.

          2. William Mougayar

            I was also schooled by the Jesuits, but for catechism only. Good memories.

          3. jason wright

            guilt for what?

          4. John Revay

            I went to a Jesuit college – freeflowing and full of debate

          5. Michael Rattner

            I also went to a Quaker school while not being Quaker. It’s a bit depressing but the best experiences I had was a Quaker funeral. It was just people randomly standing up and sharing about the deceased. It was respectful and funny and emotional and most of all, very real. (I went to the George School in PA, please don’t say you went to Westtown Friends – friends school rivalries can be quite fierce, you know)

          6. LE

            I went to George School as well.I didn’t find it depressing at all. I thought it was a great experience.

          7. Michael Rattner

            Whoops. I phrased that poorly. I meant that funerals are depressing, not the school.

          8. Michael Rattner

            Also, totally cool about the school. It was a random guess, but seemed like a good possibility. I was class of 94.

          9. LE

            I went there well before that. I used to be able to ride that train that went through the back to my house which was on the same line. (Now it’s only tracks and probably also was when you went there). The traffic was light enough that I could also ride my bike home (about maybe an hour trip?) This was before all that housing in Newtown was developed.

          10. Michael Rattner

            I heard about the train stop. Actually I heard a funny story about a student who pranked the train by buttering up the tracks. Apparently the train slid right through the station. I drove through Newtown over thanksgiving. It’s almost a metropolis now.

          11. ShanaC

            i always thought quakers were interesting in that regard…they might be the only sect that gets some of the deeper elements of prayer intimately…

          12. Michael Rattner

            There is little to no hypocrisy in Quaker beliefs vs. actions.I’ve talked with my co-founder about implementing something that my high school used to do that I thought was amazing. The school greatly valued equal access to education and so they alway had a very strong financial aid program. But they were still finding that a number of the poor students were working long hours which put them at a disadvantage to the richer students. So they implemented a policy in which every student had to work for the school for about 4-5 hours a week and the money saved would go directly to financial aid.Freshman year would be in the kitchen, so every student had pulled dirty trays into slop and picked up trash off the tables. And then you’d move on from there. I ultimately kept the computer lab running, my junior and senior years.But something interesting happened. Students and staff became friends. You’d go in and joke with the lunch lady because you had worked for her a year or two ago. Most of the students knew how the school was run and what was difficult and how to make life better. And there was a real sense that it was our school – not that we were paying for it, but that it really was ours.I don’t know exactly how to turn this into its corporate equivalent. But for a slow growth company that we hope will be around for a while, I think there really is something here. I’d guess that if our company grows the way I hope it does that in a decade I’ll still be emptying the intern’s trash on occasion.

      4. John Revay

        Your mom would be proud

      5. ShanaC

        i wish I knew what the actual priests would say after this….continue the joke

          1. ShanaC

            thank you!

      6. LE

        Yeah it’s amazing how Catholicism has that little “patch” that makes everything better and ok no matter what the screw up is. In Judaism we have “guilt”. It’s more or less the opposite of confess. You can never escape your fuckups. They stay with you forever.

        1. JLM

          .Confession is a mystical Catholic sacrament whereby one confesses, receives absolution and must perform some penance as an act of contrition.Then guess what? CLEAN FREAKIN’ SLATE!My 8th grade basketball coach was the parish Rector.Once when I went to confession, I had confessed my meager little sack of sins — truly pathetic by the standards I would one day achieve when I became a more profligate and accomplished sinner — and Father began to discuss my performance in the last basketball game wherein I had made an errant pass almost costing us the game.Overtime no less against those bitches from St Paul’s.I had also scored a piss pot of points so I thought I was getting unfairly hammered but nobody argues with Father/Coach.He said to me: “Now that pass, that was a real sin.” At which time he and I both burst into laughter. Me only after him.Nonetheless, I was dinged for 3 Hail Mary’s and a Lord’s Prayer with the LP being attributed to the bad entry pass.The next game I made that entry pass several times and the recipient scored repeatedly but I never did get credit in the Confessional for my improved performance.Father did wink at me about the sixth time I made that pass encouraging me to think that I just might get a dab of Confessional relief but alas, not so.Feel like I should have gotten a couple Hail Mary’s at least.Those Irish Catholic priests and Father Horan, in particular, were a great influence on my life and kept me on the straight and narrow. Now those mean little Sisters of Charity, well…….

          1. LE

            “my meager little sack”You’re right. In 8th grade the sack is meager.On that topic, did you notice how ever since he was re-elected, potus grew a set?

          2. JLM

            .Not really. I think his behavior is quite disjointed and disorganized.We have this huge Fiscal Cliff crisis — which like Y2K is an artificial POTUS-made boogeyman — and off he goes to Hawaii. Tone deaf.Easily the least effective and feckless leader in my lifetime.What kind of guy in the middle of a spending orgy proposes a solution based upon not limiting the amount of debt the Nation can undertake?Fiscal crack head..

          3. LE

            Agree. (Was referring more to the delta in the tone of his voice and delivery.)I love the trips he takes. (I didn’t take practically a day off for 5 years or so when I got started. I won’t even get into the hours.) He’ll have all the time in the world to take trips once he is done with the last job he will ever have. His kids? Let Michelle take them. Their life isn’t “normal” in any sense as president’s kids. No need to pretend they are just a family. The canary in the coal mine for that behavior btw was when, in the first month of office, he had to take time off (during an equally bad period for us) to visit with his kids teachers.

          4. JLM

            .The business about “I’m not going to play that game” about increasing the debt ceiling is beyond belief.The legislative branch appropriates and the executive branch spends.The executive branch cannot spend a penny that is not appropriated and rightly so.That is our system and it was made so on purpose to ensure that what he proposes — no check and balance on the amount of spending or debt — is not able to happen.And he’s a “constitutional scholar”?I recently read a great book about Eisenhower’s Presidency and how he managed to balance 8 straight budgets. He made it happen through leadership but also because he recognized and acknowledged the limitations imposed by the Congress.This simply has got to stop. No shortage of blame for all parties in DC. Fiscal crackheads..

          5. takingpitches

            In Catholic School, I was jealous in a major way that I couldn’t take confession.What a great deal, and I assumed I was missing seeing something very mystical that must have been happening behind the Confessional curtain that could make such a great deal possible.

          6. fredwilson

            My son’s game is good but he could use some coaching from Jesuits

      7. Elie Seidman


      8. Brandon Burns

        St. Thomas the Apostle: c/o ’97St. Ignatius College Prep: c/o ’01School of “sin – guilt – confession – more guilt” cycle: still in attendance

    2. Anna R.

      maybe it’s just because I don’t get too flooded with emails (though they can build up if left unattended), but I agree with Trish – not so much that someone wrote, I have to respond… but more like the OCD in me that it’s there, I should at least open it, respond quickly if I can, save it in my inbox UNTIL I can, or read and delete it, or just delete it if it’s no interest…it’s the same thing as cleaning… when you’re done, just put it away – if you just pile a bunch of stuff in your closet, it doesn’t mean you really cleaned, you just hid it, but one of these days you’re going to open the closet and it’s all going to come crashing down on top of you ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Trish Fontanilla

        I always wonder what’s worse… A terse reply or no response.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      I agree. Sometimes an email that comes would only be important if seen within a few days, or week, and thus wouldn’t have a followup. It would be neat to at least see this trend, give the opportunity to people.@fredwilson:disqus could probably use a TL;DR response auto-reply button too – “Too Long; Didn’t Read” and gives you a chance to summarize what you said … ๐Ÿ˜›

    4. AbbeyPost

      This sums up a lot of my feelings about email. I simply do not ever delete unread emails from real human beings. I use unroll.me for a lot of the other crap like subscriptions, catalogs and the like.But I also have no particular lust for “inbox zero”. That’s not a goal to me. What’s important to me is, catching every meaningful bit that comes across my desk, being responsive to the people in my network, and making email work for ME, and not the other way around.It makes absolutely no difference to me whether my inbox says “1,245” or “0” as long as I can find what I need when I need it, and people can reach me when they need to.

  14. andyswan

    I did this with a desk drawer the other day. Didn’t even look just dumped.Felt the same way.

    1. LE

      Sounds like a heartwarming tale (to be enjoyed with apple cider and captain morgans 100 proof spiced rum) but I can’t imagine how this is a good thing. [1]For one, the time that it takes (with a typical desk drawer) to decide what you want and what you don’t isn’t that big of a deal.The main reason people don’t throw things out is because of the mental pain (not time) that it takes to make decisions on what to keep and what to let go. The strategy that I have used successfully involves simply trying to winnow down the pile with a box that I call “dump”. I either throw something out or kick the can down the road by putting things in the dump box. I’ve also found that things that I’ve saved have been really helpful in solving problems from time to time (so I am reinforced with the saving behavior). It’s not a money issue it’s having that extra power adapter on hand when you need it. Or that little sheet metal screw.[1] Btw, some of those Playboys in the drawer could be collector editions that might get decent dollars on ebay.

      1. andyswan

        no clutter no backfire yet

    2. JLM

      .I recently was cleaning out my Father’s Army footlocker from WWII. I am going to have a clearcoat matt finish sealer sprayed on it to protect all of the writing and mailing info. It is a precious heirloom to me.It had not been opened in probably 50 years and it had a box of stuff that neither he nor I could figure out what the hell they were. I preserved each and every little piece of junk religiously.There was a woolen Army blanket with mothballs carefully folded into it. The Army used wool because it still warms even when soaking wet.The last time it had been used was in the War in Italy.It was still intact and the fold lines were creased into it like steel.Don’t throw away everything..

  15. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I read this interesting article yesterday about how ‘contextual social outreach’ can increase the email open rate. Basically, this company engaged with their email recipients via social media first prior to sending emails. This resulted in a 70% increase in the email open rate. I have no idea how to scale this but the point is that if you want to reach someone then it is a good idea to research where they are active on the social web. Here is the link http://spinnakr.com/blog/so

  16. Ramki Balasubramanian

    Search for “is: unread”, create a temporary filter and check “apply to all [N] messages”. Instead of deleting, it is better to archive. Delete the filter immediately [it helps to keep the ‘Settings’ pane open in another tab]. I read and clear all important email before doing this.

  17. Dorian Dargan

    Yes… this has irked me for some time now – the lack of a button. A filter is a good idea – thanks!

  18. Tyler Hayes

    Reminds me of Jeff Atwood’s Todon’t article:Declare to-do bankruptcy right now. Throw out your to-do list. It’s hurting you.I started employing this a few weeks ago by completely resetting all emails/tasks/reminders/tickets in my life. I’m considering doing this on a regular basis. Daily feels too often โ€” sometimes emails need to sit for a couple days while I stew on them โ€” but weekly may be right.

    1. Techman

      So does this happen with support requests I send to you guys? I swear they are probably being ignored. The most recent one was a global spammer.

      1. Tyler Hayes


        1. Techman

          Then does where does all of my support requests go? I blame Disqus eating them ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. mikenolan99

    I have a nasty habit of checking my email on my iPhone at all hours, then forgetting to mark them unread, or take action. Even important stuff gets unanswered I keep trying to come up with work around, but the simple answer for me is: Don’t check email if you don’t have time to do anything with it! Be in the moment, and leave email for its own time.

    1. K_Berger

      One thing I like about gmail, web and mobile (android) is that hitting ‘mark unread’ also takes you back to the inbox. Other mail clients I have used require both marking unread and then exiting out of the email. Too much effort. ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Same here about checking email on my phone. I can’t stand to see that icon and not check email.. Except the ones that go into Outlook are not marked “read” but I know I’ve read them, so same thing almost. I think your solution is a good one — which also allows for prioritizing.

  20. Max Yoder

    I’d tell you to take the rest of the day off, Fred, but that probably wouldn’t bode well for your inbox.

  21. leigh

    won’t solve the problem, but i started using @sanebox and really really like it. Basically trains your inbox.

  22. John Revay


  23. baba12

    Oh Blimey, I guess me email to Fred (Mr.Wilson) is now archived or deleted.

  24. Avi Levine

    Gmail’s definitely lacking in certain functionality, but they make up for it by allowing others to build on top of their client (they could do more on that front, but they’re better than the other guys). That’s why we built PhilterIt (www.philterit.com) which leverages Gmail’s labeling to add icons and intuitive filtering. Basically, our goal is to convert what takes 9 clicks in Gmail (auto-archive/skip the inbox) to 1 click. Email just shouldn’t be a massive source of guilt/angst. Life’s too short!

  25. ShanaC

    Is it worth it to declare email bankruptcy – and what are good ways of avoiding email bankruptcy (since I am permanently email bankrupt)

    1. Anne Libby

      For me, sending fewer, and shorter, emails has helped. (Some things that turn into multiple email exchanges can be far more effectively handled in a quick call or conversation. I pick up the phone far more frequently.)

      1. ShanaC

        I do, but some things are personal, and don’t take to phonecalls well without making coffee plans. which in some cases because of geography impossible

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Chapter 11 is a compromise.

      1. ShanaC

        how do i do chapter 11 of email?

  26. Wavelengths

    You may have won $12 million dollars in the Nigerian lottery, but now you’ll never know.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Impossible. I got that very email just today,

  27. Shyam Subramanyan

    This means you will *have* to see my email if I send one now ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I wish I could do the same with my brain, sometimes!

  29. RapidCloudSolutions.info

    Gadgeteer,.There’s a much better way to approach your InBox and processing emails. I use one that let’s me respond to *all* communications with little effort..If you’re interested in trying a new approach let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

  30. Ryan

    Great post — this is something I’m sure many of your readers can relate to viscerally.BTW, you can archive all messages in your priority inbox by searching in gmail for “in:inbox is:important”, selecting all messages, clicking “select all conversations that match this search”, and archiving away.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Very good to know.

    2. fredwilson

      Thanks for the tip!

  31. Donna Brewington White

    moved to proper place in thread

  32. Matt A. Myers

    So, if you don’t reply to something, is it because it’s gone into the archive – or do some emails you just not respond to?

    1. fredwilson


  33. Jeff T.

    I do something similar when people come over. I shove everything laying around into a closet.

    1. jeff

      Fred, you can also select everything in your inbox too. If you select all from the page you’ll see a link appear centered above the email listings to select everything. see the attached image.

      1. fredwilson


    2. Wavelengths

      “A clean house is a sign of an empty life.” Good solution. You know you can also put the dirty dishes into the oven. Just don’t forget. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. matthughes

    Email bankruptcy – ha!As archiving is to Chapter 7, deleting your email account would be Chapter 11.

  35. Darragh Browne

    I try to make sure that pretty much everything is archived by the end of each day.Since emails come from people & apps (i.e Trello), I treat everything as something that has to be actioned, filtered or archived.If anything is left over (usually only less than 5 messages per day), I know that it needs to be taken care of first thing the following day.Doing this sort of turns Gmail into a task app and I’ve felt a lot more productive since starting the process.Having said that, I’m guessing you receive a fair few more emails than I do!



    1. Donna Brewington White

      Twitter is both humbling and freeing. You know that all you can really do is dip your cup into a running stream and you learn to be satisfied with that.

  37. Techman

    I know that what I’m about to say doesn’t help much from a Gmail perceptive, but Outlook.com and Microsoft are really doing something amazing. They have been adding more eye candy, but more importantly their many ways of sorting messages are getting better. You can archive based on sender, subject and more.

  38. David Petersen

    Fred’s inbox angst is the gift that keeps on giving.Nice guy makes email address available to the world and feels a slight but persistent guilt at each email he ignores.

  39. William Mougayar

    It’s ironic that for a tool that is so critical, we keep mistreating it in order to use it well:ย – Go down to zero!ย – Go to archive!ย – Delete!ย – Come to the bathroomย – I hate you- Half of you is Junkย Yet, it is “bold”, keeps smiling to us and bringing us daily goodies.ย 

  40. kidmercury

    in previous conversations pertaining to inbox zero i believe fred suggested that would be a great name for a band. i totally agree. turns out there is a band named inbox zero!http://www.reverbnation.com…i havent listened to any of their music, but i like them already.

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      good find!! Now I need to check them out – I wonder if they come from a tech background.

  41. Avi Deitcher

    Unrelated request: Fred, care to write a post addressing the Google announcement that they are no longer offering Google Apps for Your Domain for free, even for small (<50, then <10) users? Used to be a great way to get people addicted, classic freemium model.Happy to get your insights on this.(and apologies if someone already asked, I cannot keep up with every comment here. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    1. fredwilson

      I missed that. I will have to read up on it

        1. fredwilson


  42. Matthew Krieger

    @fredwilson:disqus Those who can archive all their mail and declare inbox zero are needed by others more than they need things from others. That just isn’t reality for most of us. Joe office worker won’t be too successful declaring inbox zero when the communications from his bosses and peers go unanswered.

    1. fredwilson

      i am not archiving the email of my coworkers

  43. Leonid S. Knyshov

    I use keyboard shortcut “* a e”To use it effectively, choose a view of a subsection of your priority inbox. My configuration is simple “All unread” and “Everything else”.Even though I don’t use a dedicated priority mailbox view, I still see a notification that a message should be in my priority view and pay closer attention to those messages.In order to choose the section, click on the “25 of many” or “50 of many” link, which will expand that section to be the only section.Scan through the messages and star whatever you still want to read. It helps to do this on a very high resolution screen in landscape mode. My manually clicked stars are green and my automated stars are yellow. I have a label and a filter just for green-starred messages, but you can also simply run a search for “has:green-star”Now press * a eEverything is archived, including your unread potentially priority messages. They will still be viewable in the priority mailbox section. Whatever remains is usually in its own label anyway. I have 600+ filters on my Gmail box. This is a programmer’s habit – never do things manually twice.I do have a nifty idea for a Gmail plugin. Filter out the noise at the top of messages in this pre-selection view. I define lines starting with “Hi” or “$name,” or “If you have trouble” as noise. I think I’ll implement it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. fredwilson