A Quest for Zero

It’s a long weekend.  I do love the Presidents. I’m sure many of you planned to go away for a few days, or maybe catch up on sleep, or spend quality time with friends, or handle something that you have been putting off. Me? I am on a quest for zero!

I am an organized person. Some might say compulsive.  They have not met my wife. Yes, we are an organized duo.  Anyway, I believe in drawers and closets.  A brilliant invention they were. (My wife is more of a “throw it away” person but this is not really about her.)

You see, I’m as a sentimental as the next guy. I have stuff that I want to keep (George Carlin had a great bit on stuff – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac) but that does not mean it has to be scattered all over the place. Organization, neatness. Just saying these words brings me a sense of tranquility.

I get approximately 125 emails a day to my personal account. Truthfully, I never counted, but this seems right. Now, the majority of it is junk. SIDE NOTE: As children we were happy to get mail. Right? Now, it is mostly junk. Ten years ago, we were happy to get email. Now, it’s mostly junk. Prediction, soon, we will be saying the same text messages. Back to the point. While a good chunk of my email is junk, there are still plenty of emails which I feel a need to read and some of it needs to be read carefully and requires a thoughtful response.

With email there is an efficiency. You type it, you send it, and it’s received.  It is meant to be quick and an entire exchange can occur in just moments.

Now, some emails require me to ruminate. They are not of the yes/no, chocolate/vanilla, pizza/macaroni & cheese variety. In fact, sometimes I prefer to let an email sit in my inbox for a day, so I can truly consider my response whether it be of the thoughtful, heartfelt, or encouraging kind. I like to get the words as close as possible to the sentiment I am feeling.

Currently, I have 14 emails in my in inbox. Some have been there for months. The emails vary but generally, they are not of the type that I must respond to. Instead, most of them have information which I find practical and turn to with some regularity. So, I have kept them in my inbox. However, I am tired of seeing them there.

What, dare I dream, would it be like to have zero emails in my inbox? It’s the email version of a spotless house, a clear desk, a clutter-free mind. It’s the holy grail of organization. If it were an object, Indiana Jones would have gone searching for it.

Now, I recognize that this state of perfection may not last long as I get many emails a day. Still, zero is a goal worth having. Full disclosure — I have checked my email three times since I started writing this.

Anyway, I am a quest for zero. Those emails which I don’t really need? Delete. For the others, I have folders – emails version of closets. I can do it. I can get organized. While I would be happy to read your response to this post, just know the response won’t stay in my inbox long.

37 thoughts on “A Quest for Zero

    • I appreicate your concern for my clutter. It’s done.
      Good to hear from you. I mean to email you about your question about my spelling of G-d.
      I think I have this right. Anyway, on paper that will be discarded, you don’t put the name of G-d. Once you do, then you have to dispose of the paper in a specific place. My wife was saying she believes the rule is related to using the name of G-d in general. Please don’t take me as an authority.
      Sorry for the delayed response.

  1. hahahahaha! My work email is pushed through Outlook, and I have a separate data file where I keep all of the folders (there are currently 63 folders in that file, and it’s only the first quarter!). I close the data file at the end of the year and start a new one up – this is so that I can reference information faster – but that’s not the point. In my personal yahoo, I did set up a generic History In Box, and those emails that I can’t bring myself to delete, I just toss them over there! LOL. It’s avoidance. But, I’d rather they sit in the folder that I can’t see vs. in my in-box where I would have to see it every time I open email!

    • I hear you. Do you ever comb through the history in box. I go through my folders occassionaly. I’d like to do it more regularly but who has the time?

      • I do go through it every couple of months if I’m lucky! Usually I can weed out receipts I’ve kept or stuff that I can finally say is closed out. I am a believer in the whole if I can’t see it, it doesn’t bother me philosophy. Lol

  2. Do you seriously think you’re the only one?
    Even though I’ve got this “follow up” function I hardly ever use it… I just keep the emails in the Inbox until everything is done…
    That’s called “practical”. LOOOOOL Nothing wrong with that…

    • Nothing wrong with this is right. I never said this made sense. I just like the fact that everything is in its right place. We are all allowed to have our craziness.

  3. I was going to suggest folders, but it sounds like you are onto that already.

    I get many, many junk emails, and developed a bad habit of glancing at them but never deleting. I just uncovered a very important email that was sent to me last March. The sender was the contractor who had installed our window, offering to come frame it and paint the wall, free of charge. In the year since he sent the message, we’ve never finished it. Now what to do with that offer?

  4. I am also in the same quest – it’s hard as I don’t have much time on the computer and while I receive emails to my phone, it’s still hard while spending quality time with the baby. I hope you were more successful than I in your quest for zero!


  5. Wow! How organised are you?! I’m good at deleting mail out of my inbox, but at the expense of cluttering up the 25 folders that I throw them into. Well, you never know when something may come in handy? I check them once a year, I guess that’s not too bad…. Okay, perhaps it is. Something else to add to my to-do list.

    • Sorry for burdening you.
      I want to get to 0. Still trying. I got under 10. By, the way, I have 7 folders and don’t through them enough either. Sigh.

  6. haha!! This is funny! I hate clutter! I am a sentimental person so I do tuck a lot away but trust me plenty of stuff is thrown away in this house too! Unfortunately, most of it is my family’s stuff. If they don’t put it away and it doesn’t look important…in the trash it goes. Of course I have thrown away some really “important” stuff along the years! I don’t get very many emails but I can imagine if I did I would exactly how you are!

    • Based on your posts, I would have guessed you are sentimental.
      I remember my mom threatened and threatened to throw out my baseball cards when I was little. One day, she finally did it. Later, when I was a teen got into the cards again, but partially as an investor. I was so upset thinking about all those valuable cards I may have had if I had just put my stuff away.

  7. I have an email from my mother sitting in my inbox; it’s been there since mid-December. It’s her recipe for the cheese ball we all love to have at Christmas. And I’m too lazy to get out my recipe cards and write it down, so I just keep the email there.

    But it bothers me every time I see it.

    • I wish I did not know what you meant. Tough love – print it – easy and it’s done. And you get to delete the email.
      By the way, I have already deleted the email that alerted me I had a comment. Sweet!
      Still have 10 there.Yuck.

  8. I LOVE having an empty inbox. I have the most elaborate system of labels and sub labels in my gmail account to file everything away. I’m like you in that I tend to keep those emails that require more thought lingering in my inbox. For me a nagging reminder of something I never seem to have time to get to!

  9. I am glad you wrote this post, I can easily relate to this: I love being organized in everything and like you I wish sometimes to have my e-mails at 0 ha!ha! when I use to work, every morning I would be in very early just to make sure my inbox was clear: it never happened! & like you I have those few e-mails I keep and I know I have to get through them 🙂 In our house, we get into fights many times because sometimes I get in this ugly mood and I start cleaning/throwing stuff away and my husband doesn’t like it because he doesn’t like to clean and he leaves stuff around the house and sometimes I put them away in places he won’t find them; because he rarely put things away! 🙂

  10. Hi! I got through! Must have been a temporary glitch on my end. We are cut from the same cloth, friend. Nothing better to me than the tranquility that comes from order. Quest for Zero is a great name – I think you’re on to something here! Perhaps a reality show, app or Wii game? I’m afraid of what will happen if I actually get to zero – we could be talking apocalypse, mister! I better not risk it. I’ll wait to see what happens to you first. 😉 Great post!

    • Glad it worked out. This website stuff is making me a bit crazy.
      Anyway, I am glad you are with me. Now, I am a big idea guy but you I can see from your response can handle the nitty gritty. So, tell you what I am going to do. I love the ideas. You handle them, consult me as needed and I will give you 30%. Are we on?
      Btw, I made it yesterday. I turned off the computer quickly after I got down to zero. It was beautiful. I think I may blog about it. Good laughs.

  11. I may have the “solution” to your Quest….as this is how I currently handle exactly those last 10 emails you speak of – too important to just “file” away in some unknown file or delete.

    I have an email file folder specifically labeled “Pending”.

    This is for emails that I need to reference within a certain time frame (a week, month or a couple of months – doesn’t matter), but I don’t need to look at today. I have a reminder set up on my Outlook to remind me to go through that folder once a month where I weed out anything I no longer need.

    Now – you may be asking if my email inbox is currently at 0 – why, no, no it’s not. But that isn’t because of my “system” – it’s because I haven’t had time to clean out my email! I spent some time on it on Friday and today and I’m down from over 300 to less than 50. I’m not there yet, but I will be as soon as my replacement is trained!! 🙂

    • That sounds like a good system. Thanks for the advice. Good luck getting your inbox to 0. I made it last night and it was beautiful.

  12. I was wondering about the G-D spelling, too. I’ve seen it and for some reason thought it was a negative, blasphemous thing for some reason?! Guess I was wrong!

    Just came across your blog and like it! Wish you had like buttons on your posts 🙂

    • Glad you found the blog and like it. There is a like but it is related to Facebook somehow. To be honest, I am not 100% sure.
      I am not certain if this is the reason to do so. Anyway, I spell it like that because the paper is not permanent & will be thrown out. My wife says it has something to do with taking the name in vain.

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