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I’ll do it, but only if you’ll help

Pledge “tidyinbox”

"I will ensure that my inbox is empty before I go to bed each day in 2009 but only if 25 other online peeps will do the same."

— Bill Thompson, of

Deadline to sign up by: 30th January 2009
29 people signed up (4 over target)

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Suw and Bill believe that inbox cleanliness is as close to godliness as atheistic net users get. We'd like our friends to join us in our quest for virtue and salvation.

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Comments on this pledge

  • Doing fairly well so far, but not going to tick this as "done" until I'm sure I've changed my habits. It's easy today because no one's really emailing me much, but how will I do next week? That's the question...
  • Wasn't going to sign up as I thought it would be impossible, but doing OK so far (although it is only Jan 2nd!). May the force be with us.
    Amanda, 10 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • I ticked "done" but it was by accident - PledgeBank won't let me untick it. Otherwise, not feeling too contented just yet!

    Another challenge I have is that I receive work-related as well as personal emails at the same addresses.

    The way I use email is different for work vs. personal. Work tends to be about tasks and requests. Personal is more rambling, penpal-style, and typically I delay up to a week or so before responding.

    I've long given up trying to school people to differentiate between my work and personal addresses.

    I may have to start archiving the personal ones on receipt and putting "respond to friend x" on my todo list, which feels a bit weird.
  • Good idea. I am found of pledges for new year. Goals must be simple enough to be fulfilled, and it works! You feel much better and step by step you give a new order to your life.
  • Carl, I get both personal and work emails into my account too, but it's easy enough to put them in a folder (or in the case of Gmail, give them a label and archive them), and reply to them later if I want to. But I'm going with the "I'm not checking my inbox unless I intend to process the emails in it" tactic, which is working well so far. Although mostly I tend to find myself deleting stuff more than replying!
  • Wow - thanks for this. Been thinking about it over xmas.

    The 35,000+ emails in my inbox, which included 25k+ unread mails, are now archived. Hurrah!

    Waiting for the enjoyable feeling of weight lifting from my shoulders to sink-in :)
  • Inbox emptied on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and now (so far, at least) on Monday. While working, I now turn off Outlook for 2-3 hours at a time, avoiding disruptions (though I occasionally look at incoming Tweets). Can I keep this up for a whole year, though?
  • I've been keeping my inbox empty for some time now, but I'm not quite as strict as the pledge. I make sure it goes down to zero every few days (or at least once a week or so) and allow some e-mails that I need to act upon to sit in it for a few days (usually not more than 2-3).
  • I'm surprised at how well I'm doing so far, but I've had my first "ack, I've opened this email but I can't do anything more until someone else replies" moment... which made me feel icky. That also made me realise how satisfying I've found it to keep my inbox empty this last few days.

    Still, early days yet.
  • Thank Suw. Looking forward to it - and appreciate the idea that I won't check the inbox without processing it. This will allow me to be on holiday, when that comes around.
  • Realising that it's not just as simple as putting all of your emails in archive once.

    This is going to need tactics :)
  • Simon, tactics, yes!! Let me know what yours are, because I think I'm going to need them.

    I am noticing that it's forcing me to make decisions that I'd otherwise needlessly postpone, which is interesting. And a good thing!
  • Suw, cheers for personal email tip but I feel uncomfortable about having another folder or set of labelled emails sitting there that's really just an inbox in all but name. Call it a personal foible!

    Whereas I can sleep easy about an outstanding to-do list item because I've "actioned" the email.

    Or better still, like you say - sitting back after apportioning proper time to gun down all those emails.

    For the use case of "need to wait till someone else replies", it really depends doesn't it?

    Sometimes I can just archive, forget and trust the other person to bring it up again. If it's something important where I need to hassle or chase someone, I put it in my diary: "hassle person x to do z thing". (That's the plan anyway.)

    I'm learning that life and cool projects make progress by those awkward but necessary confrontations. Not least with myself.
  • I will follow this practice (emptying my inbox)- in fact, I already do - and I just want to say, I am not an atheist!
    Debbie Kean, 10 years ago. Abusive? Report it!
  • We're five weeks into the email pledge, how are people doing?
  • I've started publishing a graph of my inbox status to my home page:

    I've been doing pretty well at keeping my inbox tidy so far, but I figure a bit of public shaming will help keep me on the straight and narrow!
  • Chris, I like it.

    It would be fun to track a whole organisation's email statuses (if they were all on IMAP).

    Then you could pie chart their operant conditioning and reprimand them in the face.
This pledge is closed for new comments.

Current signatories (Green text = they've done it)

Bill Thompson, the Pledge Creator, joined by:

  • Suw Charman-Anderson
  • Chris Mear
  • Kirsten Jones
  • David Wells
  • Chris Bray
  • Carl Morris
  • Matthew
  • James Cridland
  • Mary Picken
  • Mike
  • Drew Buddie
  • Paul Wilkinson
  • Amanda
  • Graeme Sutherland
  • Shane Lambert
  • garsin cheung
  • Simon Perry
  • Hilary Perkins
  • Phil Clark
  • Björn Bauer
  • Alun Rowe
  • Tom de Grunwald
  • Tom Morris
  • Steve Thompson
  • Amy
  • Steve Thompson
  • Sarah
  • Debbie Kean
  • Aidan McCarthy

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