email madness

You. Always. Have. Email.

Too much. It’s really become all too much.

Since I started using DevonThink last year I dump all of my email from the previous month into two databases, one for work email and one for personal email. When I went to do this yesterday, I decided it would be much more helpful if I created subgroups for each year of email. So, I decided to split out all of the pre-2015 email from the main database and stored it in a few safe places.1 All fine and good.

But this made me realize the frankly kinda shocking fact that my email volume has grown enormously in the past few years. Not just because of starting a full-time job, but my personal email especially. My giddy fuck.

In other words, that’s an increase of 1590%(!!) in personal email since 2015 and a much more modest 15% on work email. For January 2020, I’m at 1988 personal emails and 1291 work emails. Assuming the rest of the year is about the same rate, at current I’ll get around 23,856 personal emails and 15,492 work emails. Shattering last year’s record by 8,282 more emails.

This is, pardon me, fucking madness.

What the hell happened to reach this point? Well, I have a few theories.

  1. Newsletters and Notifications.

I’ve made the mistake of signing up for a lot of email newsletters, most of which are just marked as read and ignored.

Some leading offenders:

  • The Washington Post email@washingtonpost.com: 720 (2018), 1170 (2019)
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch no-reply@richmond.com: 239 (2018), 508 (2019)
  • GitHub (new versions and discussion in watched repos) notifications@github.com: 132 (2018), 262 (2019)

My Fear of Missing Out (aka FOMO) is itchy AF. You get the idea.

  1. I’ve ended up on too many promo lists.

Admittedly, since creating a domain that allows me to use anything in front of the @ sign (e.g., foo@bar.net), it has allowed me to sign up for things without thinking.

  1. I just have so so so much more to do. sigh

The worst part maybe is that as a person who really likes having an empty inbox, I do get a little antsy when that’s not the case. That’s been harder and harder to achieve. So now I’m at the point if it’s an email that I’d otherwise ignore and mark as read, I’m finally gonna just unsubscribe. The only way I can even begin to process all of this is the 48 different sorting rules I use with Fastmail (referral link) to create a vague sense of order.

But this is absolute madness. I’m too connected and it’s not just email: Slack, Signal, IRC, Twitter (hell site that it is), SMS, it’s godforsaken madness. During the day I charge up my phone at work but hide it under my monitor stand so I don’t even think about it. I’ve forgotten to take it home a few times and am probably better off for it, in anycase.

Nevertheless, something’s gotta give. This is just…

YIKES.


  1. cough someone’s a data hoarder cough See also. ↩︎