The 52 Week Email Purge Challenge

52 week email purge challenge

If you’re like me, you have way too many emails that need to be cleared out of your inbox. They seem to sit there and linger week after week, and even though you know you should go through them, it never seems to get done. I must admit that I have performed the “nuclear option” in the past of deleting everything, but that really isn’t the best way to handle too much inbox email in my opinion. Those emails weren’t deleted for some reason when they first came in, and most of them need to be looked at to see if some task needs to be performed before deleting.

I’m trying to be much more diligent this year and do the “one-look” method for incoming emails. That is, if I open the email, then I need to deal with it right then and there instead of leaving it in the inbox and saying that I’ll take care of it later. If I open it, some action needs to be taken so I can move it out of my inbox.

The problem is that doing this doesn’t address all of those old emails that have piled up. My solution is to take the advice of a comment left in the 52 week declutter challenge article, and apply the concept to my email as well. Thus, I’ve put together the 52 Week Email Purge Challenge.

52 Week Email Purge Chart (click on image to print)

52 Week Email Purge Challenge Brown
The concept is simple. The first week you remove one email from your inbox that’s not new (you should be eliminating all the new emails they day that you receive them). During week two, you remove 2 of those stale emails. During week three, 3 old emails find a new home outside your inbox. In the last week of the challenge, you remove 52 emails which will mean that you have freed your inbox of 1,378 emails during the course of the year. To keep you focused and honest, I’ve created a printout that you can place on the bulletin board directly behind your computer desk. This will let you keep track of the number of emails you delete each week, while also being a reminder that you need to take care of at least a few of them.

I will actually be doing the alternate version of this challenge. In this version, you choose how many emails get purged each week from the numbers at the bottom of the chart. The numbers range from 1 through 52, so at the end of the year you have eliminated the same number of emails as the standard version. This gives you a bit more flexibility to cross off the higher numbers during weeks when you have the time and motivation to tackle the emails, while it lets you only purge a few when you’re busier or simply not motivated. I know that I go through both stages, so doing it this way, rather than a set progression of deleting more emails each week, gives me a better chance at success.

52 Week Email Purge Chart Alternat Version (click on image to print)

52 Week Emai lPurge Challenge Alt Ver-Brown
This should be a challenge that should work well for most people. The problem many have when it comes to those stale emails in their inbox is that the task seems so overwhelming to tackle that they don’t even know where to begin. By breaking the task down into more smaller, more manageable amounts over a longer period of time, you should be able to make a huge dent in clearing out your email inbox over the course of the year. If you are dedicated and follow through with both one-touching the new emails coming in, and doing the purge challenge, you just might have a completely clean inbox by this time next year.

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One Response to The 52 Week Email Purge Challenge

  1. scfr says:

    I’ve knocked the numbers that correspond with weeks 18, 24, 25, 26 & 28 off. Trying to get ahead as I have company coming and my priority will be quality time with my house guest so I won’t be working on this challenge.

    I was motivated to do this challenge originally for environmental reasons, but as with all purges it has been enlightening. I am seeing how I spent my time a couple years ago sometimes in ways that I now realize would have been better spent elsewhere. I am trying to use this as a learning experience to make me more mindful of how I use my time NOW.

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