I currently have 26,439 unread e-mails in my Gmail inbox.
No, I’m not kidding. Oh wait, now it’s up to 26,442.
Relax, people, most of them are not important — just ads, newsletters, and a few legal notices from some bogus charity called the IRS.
I also have preserved another 1,227,689 emails in my SENT folder. Hey, I’m professional writer and there’s probably some profound and witty stuff in there that my children’s children will want to sift through some day.
There’s Hope, There’s Help
I’m a charter member and president of the Williamson County chapter of Email Hoarders Anonymous, a support group for people who have 10,000 or more unread emails in their Inbox. We started sending out the information about our meetings via text message when we realized that the members weren’t reading the emails. We have our meetings at the library because most of us have a ton of books on our shelves that we’ve never read, so the local library makes us feel right at home.
I’m considering hiring an e-mail cleaning lady to come on Saturday mornings. Of course, I’ll have to spend some time training her so she can accurately discern in which of three categories to put my e-mails:
3) Donate to Goodwill
On the other hand, with 26,000+ unread emails if I’m ever a castaway stranded on an uncharted island with just my phone, phone charger, and decent wi-fi I’ll have years of reading material. It certainly beats talking to a blood-stained volleyball for almost five years, I’m pretty sure of that.
The Cult of Deleters
Oh, I’ve encountered the smug and self-righteous whose ongoing number of unread emails is lower than the average January temperature in Chicago. Yes, I have friends who flaunt their skinny inboxes as if their Gmail folders were toned bodies ready for swimsuit season.
When these people with their anorexic Inboxes hear my rotund tally, they gasp wide-eyed and become faint and say things like, “OMG, I don’t know how you live like that!” Consequently, one of my favorite pranks is to go up to a person who has severe OCD and show them my Inbox stats and watch them go catatonic like one of those fainting goats you read about.
These highly organized e-mail managers with their “I Delight to Delete” bumper stickers are the same people who have all their Christmas shopping done in November and have their income tax returns done before Valentine’s Day. In other words, these are people that you can’t trust.
Reach for the Stars
Some of you, however, may be reading this column and thinking, “Gosh, I only have 724 unread emails. How can I get those numbers up?” My friend, Beth, is an All-Star email hoarder and a member of the 60,000 Club. She mentors those who want to pile up unread e-mails as if they were frequent flier miles.
Beth offers these tips:
1) Use your email address to sign up online for everything as often as possible; and never decline to get e-mail updates from that company or their 50 affiliated sponsors.
2) Never unsubscribe from any daily ads or weekly newsletters. Writers in marketing are very sensitive and take unsubscribing personally.
3) Use only the preview function of your email program and refrain from actually opening any e-mail messages. Remember that email subject lines are like movie trailers — they give you the whole story.
4) Stay away from articles, free e-books, and TED Talks videos on how to be more productive and happier in life by regaining control over your email.
If you enjoyed and found this column helpful please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Place the words “I Love You and I Want to Give You Money” in the subject line as this will improve the chances of me noticing it between the Kohl’s ad and the Culver’s Flavor of the Day alert.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at email@example.com. To read Presson’s previous columns go to www.franklinhomepage.com/?s=ramon+presson