By the Hair on Crabby Old Lady's Chinny Chin Chin
Happy Halloween 2014

Email Bankruptcy

[EDITORIAL NOTE: It tells you something about Crabby's week, if not life, that you are getting missives (read: complaints) from her two days in a row. Aren't you lucky.

Every day, Crabby Old Lady struggles to keep up with email. It's been a losing battle for years. She slips behind several days then schedules a few hours to catch up and the most common result is that her tush turns to stone in the desk chair as the hours creep by and she still hasn't finished.

Of course, Crabby is not alone. Not infrequently she reads of busy people who have 20,000 or 30,000 unread emails in their inboxes. Hers stretch “only” to hundreds.

It helps – to a degree – that Crabby color-codes some types of incoming. Bills are fluorescent pink, for example, and the emails she receives of every comment posted to this blog and The Elder Storytelling Place are red. The latter means she doesn't need to constantly check online to keep up with comments through the day.

Personal friends are purple. Certain newsletters are blue. Elder Storytelling Place submissions are green. And Crabby has forgotten what orange is for. Everything else is black including junk by the daily dozens that bought her address from websites that undoubtedly assured her they never sell addresses.

If you don't count those sleazy retailers, Crabby's junk settings generally work quite well; it has been years since a fake Nigerian has asked her to wire money.

There are a plethora of apps, add-ons and, most of all, advice from self-styled experts who, with fake patience, purport to have the answer for cleaning out your inbox. The item that each one of them seems to think no ever thought of before is to read email in reverse order of receipt.

Come on. Anyone older than 25 has been doing that since email was born.

Crabby has been trying to get out of email bankruptcy for so long, there's nothing she doesn't know about it – what works (not much) and what doesn't (everything else).

Undoubtedly, Crabby's largest difficulty is that she feels obligated to answer almost all email from real people. She is talking about the (mostly) kind people with questions, suggestions or general thoughtfulness in regard this blog. (What would Saturday's Interesting Stuff be without all those ideas flowing in?)

But what has prompted today's blog post is that due to busy-ness, old-fashioned sloth and maybe creeping old age (she seems to be slower in general lately), Crabby is now about two weeks behind in blog-related email and that adds up to - as of this moment - 761 unread emails.

And so, as soon as Crabby is finished writing this post, she is going to take the most extreme solution there is for email bankruptcy: she will highlight her entire inbox and click “delete.”

There is nothing else she can do and remain sane. It will rid her of the guilt for not answering and give her a clean slate.

If any of you reading have sent an email in the past ten days or two weeks that you believe must have an answer, okay, send it again. But please, Crabby is begging now, think it over carefully. She desperately needs a break from email.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Maureen Browning: Fuzzy Math


I read the same complaint over and over on Twitter. I admire you that you had the courage to hit delete.

That said, my email is a lonely little place. Rarely get email.

Ohhhh, you are a brave, brave woman....

Me - not so much - but I might try something sorta, kinda similar with my 2891 unread emails (I refuse to go above 3000 - hahahaha).

I really need to find a way to get rid of political e-mails. They are multiplying
like rabbits.

I can't even keep up with deleting them. Am I the only one? Aren't they hurting their cause by this. At this point it is like harassment.

If there is something important ---I will never know.

Gosh, you make me feel good! Spend 2-3 hours every day trying to keep my inbox at 300. Read and answer as much as I can, but it's a never ending battle. Would rather use that time to read and write but since I will be publishing books, need to keep up with blogs, groups, info, and some entertainment/personal enjoyment.

Used to have two inboxes. One for the public, one for friends. Then I started missing things in the Public box, so I began to switch certain contacts to the personal box... and then a few more... and now I have 137 emails staring at me and it's only 8:21 in the morning. I try to delete them....and I can't. I admire your bravery!

Ronni--Two ideas
1. Recruit a volunteer secretary. There's probably someone out there who would accept a one-year appointment to read through your "black" email, and re-route back to you the stuff you might actually want to read.
2. Auto-delete your "black" email every day. Just dump it without thinking. Period.

There is no federal law that says you have to be reachable by everyone. Let it go.

Thanks for the thought but Crabby gets lots good stuff in the "black email" from people she knows or others - professional and not - with interesting ideas for TGB and other good stuff to know.

Unfortunately, all of that can't be easily categorized to color code.

It's all a losing battle. Crabby just wanted to bitch about it and let some readers know why they aren't getting an answer this time.

I don't read about 75% of the emails I receive as they are advertising variety. I delete those as soon as they hit the inbox. If something needs to be read, I read it as soon as I see it's there, and then I deal with it and delete it. I get very few 'real' emails. Guess I just don't know a lot of important people. 8-)

One thing that helps me a bit is to click the "from" key to sort my emails alphabetically; makes it easy to see if there are duplicates or a group of junk emails that I don't want. Also easier to save several at one time if I want or need to.

"she will highlight her entire inbox and click “delete.”"

Absolutely. I do it routinely. It's mostly stuff you're familiar with or will be getting in another email soon.

Please refresh my memory..what email do you use to tag and sort? Thanks

@Victoria, You're right. The political email--begging and pleading for a donation--is the worse. Especially before an election. It's relentless, and I'll be so glad when the election is finally over.

I use Thunderbird but many email programs have sorting capabilities.

I just told a friend that, like Madeleine, I will be sooo glad when next Tuesday is over because I get so many e-mails asking for a contributions. They arrive on an hourly basis and I can't keep up with hitting the garbage can delete.

I must be on the call list of every candidate running for office.

I used Yahoo mail from practically my first day on the Internet and it had gotten so everybody in the world had the address. So I finally switched to Gmail a few years ago and have since been very careful to give the new address only to important contacts. Everyone else, and every other website, gets the old Yahoo address. To date I've not gotten any spam at the Gmail address, while the Yahoo address continues to be flooded with it. Gmail is very good at making sure I never see spam, or that once I mark something as spam, I never again see anything from that address. It also allows for all kinds of sorting and color coding like Ronni describes.

I love, love, love when Crabby Old Lady is here.
She makes me smile!
I hit the delete all button on about 300+ emails the other day. It felt pretty good!

Thanks Ronni

I only get about 15-20 emails per day, and I have no problem going through those. I cannot imagine getting hundreds, and I am very pleased that I don't!

I don't get all that many, but for some reason I don't understand I can't sync my ipad and pc correctly. So I get some emails in one place and some in the other and some in both (usually the ones I don't want at all).

A while ago I donated a buck or ten to a (blue) political cause dear to my heart and now I swear everyone who shares those same views and is running for office anywhere in the land is sending me six or eight pleading messages a day. I hope they all win (although it isn't looking real good sadly) but oh my gosh, I can't stand it.

Just sharing.. I saw an ad for a mini tablet put out by AARP. I ordered one for my husband to read emails and eBooks on. I love my iPad for emails, Twitter..lots of things. I am hoping my husband will read emails now without fussing. (Business ones)

Works for me. I may get up the nerve to do likewise, as I'm already doing with political email. I voted by mail--I don't need "reminding" by email or those super-annoying phone calls!

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