I have had an inbox with hundreds of unread email for years now. Throughout the years I have set up some rules to manage the flow of emails, directing Patreon updates, newsletters, and promotional things to specific labels. Google’s automatic email categorization has also helped surface the ones I care about. Recently, however, I decided to make some improvements and, perhaps, get that unread number down to something reasonable.
The other reason I have so many emails is because I don’t really delete them. If I care about them, I read and then return to the inbox, satisfied that they are no longer highlighted and not counted as unread. And those from the categories I mentioned above? Chances are they are not getting read to begin with. In fact, I would have set up a maximum age for those emails if Gmail had let me – a newsletter from a year ago is not something I will ever care about, I think.
Thus, I finally decided to return to using Thunderbird as my email client. I have always been quite fond of it and it does everything that I need of one. Its biggest sin is that its rules only apply locally, which means that I don’t benefit from them on the go. That said, I can set retention policies and its search is much more in line with what I want than Google’s.
So, throughout the week, I set up rules and filters, handling the bulk of them. And for those that were too few to justify, I went through them one by one, doing my best to prefer deletion over merely leaving as unread. Imagining a room filled with read letters, none particularly worth the space they occupy proved useful. The next challenge will be going through those that are read and cleaning them up!