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Getting to inbox zero: is it worth it?

We’re two weeks into 2019: how are you doing with your resolutions? Only 9% of us will accomplish our New Year’s resolutions, but if you’re vowing to clean out your email inbox and feel more organized, there are a few ways to tackle the task.

Whether you’re team “Inbox zero” or “Inbox infinity,” we all receive and send an average of 126 emails a day. (Yahoo Mail offers the most free storage: so if you stockpile your emails, you’ll have 1 terabyte of storage to use. Outlook and Google drive offer 15 GB and Hotmail and Apple iCloud give you 5 GB for free. After you use your storage up, you’ll have to start paying for extra storage: an added expense of $2.99-$9.99 a month for Google Drive or Apple iCloud.)

While services like Unroll.me can promise a quick and easy clean-up by auto-unsubscribing you from emails, users have to give up a lot of permissions. And the app has been criticized for selling user data in the past, so choosing to use it might result in more unwanted newsletters down the line.

The only way for an inbox cleanse — where you are fully in control — is to “batch delete” thousands of emails at once by searching for keywords, like “Amazon” or “LinkedIn.” Check for folders that have been created for you by your email provider that have already sorted which emails are solely promotional and delete thousands in one click, no opening or reading necessary.

You can also take the time to unsubscribe from newsletters or emails you get frequently and never use. If you have gmail, they’ll do it for you with “Smart Unsubscribe,” which sends you an alert asking if you’d like to unsubscribe from emails that have been left unopened for 30 days or more.

Setting up a separate email account specifically dedicated to your retail habits is also a way to stop the onslaught of promotional emails. This way, those emails won’t clutter up your main inbox, leaving you space for more important correspondence you might miss.

Whether you choose to tackle your inbox or do nothing at all is a hot debate, but it doesn’t necessarily determine whether you’re more productive or organized than your coworkers with different inbox habits. Some of the most successful CEOs have a varied approaches to handling their inboxes: Apple CEO Tim Cook says he reads every one of the 700-800 emails he receives each day. But Yarden Tadmor, CEO of job-search app Switch, told Fast Company that reaching inbox zero is “impossible and something that will give you too much unnecessary stress.”  

According to research, those who try and keep their email at “Inbox zero” check their email more than 25 times a day. When you get distracted by a pinging alert or are interrupted from a task, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the project, and most people will do two other things before going back to it. So if you want to stay focused at work, turn off alerts that might distract you.

January No Spend Month

The bottom line: if your inbox is overwhelmed with emails to the point of having to pay extra money per month, it’s time to clean it out. Otherwise, it’s a personal preference we’ll continue to debate! If you want more help reaching your resolutions and saving money along the way, join the Yahoo Finance No Spend Challenge. We’ll be randomly selecting winners throughout the rest of the month to win up to $500!