I recently whittled two email inboxes down from thousands of emails in each inbox to less than 30. It took a lot less time than I expected, and was way easier than decluttering paper (more on that another day). Here are three tips that worked for me:
1. Make the most of the organizing tools at your disposal. Gmail has labels and an archiving function, so you can make it easy to find emails you you want to keep but don’t necessarily need in your inbox. Other email programs offer similar functions (Yahoo uses folders, for instance). Use these tools to “put away” email that doesn’t need to be in your main inbox.
2. Start at the end. I found that it was easiest to start with the oldest emails, because it was easier to decide whether to delete or archive them, using one of the functions described above.
3. Keep the task manageable. When the count at the top of your inbox tells you there are 2400 emails, it can be overwhelming. So just dispose of 100-200 at a time. It’ll go faster than you think!