I knew that Jason Clarke and I shared similar ideas on email management when I read his 2005 post If Your Inbox Has More Than a Screenful of Messages In It, You’re Rude. On his new blog Inbox Era, he again makes the case for clearing the Inbox:
“To truly get a handle on your email communication, you need to have a goal of emptying your inbox regularly. When asked why they do it, most people who keep everything in their inbox respond with, “I can’t delete it; what if I need it?”
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it doesn’t scale. If you are only receiving 5 email messages per day, then sure, you can probably keep everything in your inbox and find the items you need when you need them. But if you start receiving 50 email messages per day, that gets a lot harder, very quickly. I would argue that even if you only receive 5 emails per day, you should still empty your inbox as a habit, because your email volume will invariably increase over time. Good habits are just as hard to break as bad ones are, so instill good ones now.