I am a recovering email hoarder. The archive button in basically any mail application is too tempting to not use. It’s like a button that says “yes, I am done with this email, probably … for now“. Except that’s not what it is. It’s “I don’t want to deal with this now or ever, but in case someone asks me about it, I can find it”.

We, as users, get gobs and gobs of email storage. Right now, at $4/mo/user, Office 365’s Exchange Online plan gives me access to 50 gigabytes of email storage, per user. I find that number so baffling because:

  1. Outlook has it’s limits, too. While we’re all happy to let Outlook chew up an infinite amount of email while indexing and doing the whole deal, but we’re really just kicking the can down the road. Microsoft has a ballpark figure of about 10gb of synced emails before things start to go sideways.
  2. If you’re hoarding email, like me, then you’re storing a lot of junk. Emails that have no relevancy, like “click here to verify your email address” or any number of email receipts from online retailers. None of this stuff matters. If you’ve already processed it, get rid of it!
  3. I don’t even have 50gb of blog posts, and I value those way more than email.

50 gigabytes is a lot of email. Years and years of it. I know some people get large PowerPoint decks and all manner of other attachments. If you are one of those people. Save them to a proper document management system. SharePoint/OneDrive are already built in and able to consume those big files. Email should not be your storage and filing solution.

This is all a very long winded way of saying that my new email handling scheme is this: If it’s an email I need to do something with, I will save it in my inbox until it’s done. Otherwise, I do what I need to do with it and delete it. Often that means adding an appointment to my calendar, or adding an item to my to-do list. Sometimes it’s make a phone call or just read an article. I have mechanisms for all of that.

What I don’t have is any coherent reason to be able to reach back 15 years and review Amazon purchases. If I need that, Amazon has it anyway.