Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do I deal with emails like an adult? I use gmail and have the separate tabs for updates, social, and promotions, but what about my main inbox? Can I just mass dump the past few years into the trash? Is that a bad idea? Do I just tag everything into separate folders and then delete the folders a year later?
-not a real adult
Dear You Probably Are Whether You Like It or Not,
I don't know if this is the Best Way of Handling EmailsTM, but I can tell you what I do!
I made a lot of folders for the main things I receive emails for. The ones I use most are School, Work, Financial, and Not Class Related School (for promotional emails from my college and stuff). Every time I get an email I put it into one of those folders, unless I need to respond to it but don't have time to do so right away, in which case I leave it unread in the main inbox. If I get an important email that I want to keep track of easily, even if it's in a folder, I star it. Then at the end of every semester I go through both School folders, as well as the Work one, and delete everything I don't think will be important for the future (which is usually almost everything), and un-star or delete all the emails that are no longer relevant. I don't bother to do that for the Financial folder, because I figure it's good to keep a record of those things anyway.
Now moving on to your actual question, I haven't always been so organized with my email, so for emails that I've just let pile up in the inbox, I wouldn't bother doing anything about it. Maybe if you're really ambitious you can go through and delete them one by one based on their individual merits, but personally, I would be hesitant to do a mass delete of absolutely everything in my inbox, just in case there's something important/meaningful in there that I need later. But there's also no downside to letting everything sit in your inbox. Gmail has so much space that it's highly, highly doubtful you would run out because of all your old emails, and it's easier to do nothing about them, and just start being organized about your email in the future.
If you want to clear out your inbox, one thing that I've realized is that the majority of the emails I want to delete come from the same people. So what I do is search for all the emails from those addresses, click select all, and then delete them all at once. For example, I searched BYU Athletics, LinkedIn, and Learning Suite Assignment notifications and just deleted over 150 emails that I knew were no longer important without having to read a single one. (Very important--please limit mass deleting to addresses you know for sure don't have anything important). If you choose a few addresses to search everyday, pretty soon your inbox will be reduced to only important emails you actually care about. Hope this helps.