Revealed: The Morning Routines of Highly Successful CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Celebrities!

Get it Now

Inbox Zero Challenge Day 1: Archive Old Messages

By | 270 comments



Today is day 1 of our 5-day inbox zero challenge. Thank you for joining!

This challenge is here to give you two things:

  1. show you an approach to email that will reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox (we’re shooting for an hour or less)
  2. give you the tools that will help you process all your emails every day without the stress

There are thousands of fellow AE fans from all across the world taking this challenge. And we are looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

During the week, we will be posting one new tip each day to help you Escape Your Email. By Friday, you’ll know how to spend less time in your inbox and more time doing the things that really matter to you.

The depressing trend of email overwhelm

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when people actually looked forward to receiving email. Re-watching the movie “You’ve Got Mail” with my fiancé Nikida reminded me that email really did start out that way.

You didn’t need a system because you didn’t have over 100 new messages a day to wade through. 1996 was the first year more email was sent than paper mail. Since then, workplace email usage has exploded.

The email trend indicates we will get more emails and notifications in the future.

The email trend indicates we will get more emails and notifications in the future.

And the problem is only getting worse. For some people, email is turning into their full-time job. Unbelievable, but true. A recent McKinsey report showed that as much as ¾’s of an information worker’s time is spent on or in email.

McKinsey Social Economy Report shows we spend 3/4 of our days on email

McKinsey Social Economy Report shows we spend 3/4 of our days on email.

And an Adobe Systems survey found that the average worker spends 6.5 hours each day just checking for new emails.

An Adobe Systems study found that the average worker spends 6.5 hours each day just checking for new emails.

An Adobe Systems study found that the average worker spends 6.5 hours each day just checking for new emails.

With this Inbox Zero challenge we want to help you get to an empty inbox. We’re all overloaded by emails and unless we do something about it, it’ll only get worse. So let’s start this fall on a high note by clearing out the email inbox.

Who is this challenge for?

This challenge is for people who:

  • have always wanted to clear their email but didn’t feel motivated to do so
  • have anxiety about opening their email because they are ill-prepared to deal with everything they may find there
  • don’t have enough time to sit down and develop a systematic solution that would allow them to stay on top of their email
  • spend more time dealing with email than they’d like and are looking to get more efficient at it
  • want to achieve inbox zero but haven’t in a long time

If this challenge is for you, commit now.

Research shows that committing to friends and family about a new ritual helps with follow-through.

Tweet: I’m starting my #AsianEfficient inbox zero challenge!

Tweet: I'm starting my #AsianEfficient inbox zero challenge!

Now let’s dive in with the first inbox zero challenge.

Challenge #1: Archive all messages in your inbox older than 30 days in your “Archive” folder

The first step to the challenge is to archive old emails (anything older than 30 days) to your “Archive” folder. Archiving your past due/spoiled/rotten/overripe/moldy/expired emails will give a manageable number to work with for this challenge.

Inbox Zero Question: Should you read these emails before archiving them?

Inbox Zero Answer: No.


Why would you want to do this?

We have found, from working with hundreds of people, that emails older than 30 days don’t make any difference. Whether you reply to the email 30 days late or 6 months later, the repercussions are negligible. If it’s important enough to need your attention, the sender will send you another reminder email about it.

Think of this mass archive as stripping the fat so you can get to the core – the truly important emails. They’re the ones that have been sent within the last 30 days. While archiving a heap of emails at once isn’t ideal, it’s important that you set yourself up for success.

You see, Inbox Zero and Escaping Your Inbox is not a one-time event. It’s a state of being which is only achievable (in 2016) if you establish a solid system. You will have a better chance of implementing a system that sticks if you a take a few shortcuts in the beginning.

It’s like using a spotter or pull-up bands before you have the upper body strength to do pull-ups on your own.

email pull-ups

These shortcuts will give you the chance to build up your email muscle. As a more powerful email user, you’ll no longer be forced to archive unread or unanswered emails in the future.

Archive ≠ Delete

Notice I didn’t say delete your emails – just move them to your archive folder. That way you don’t have to worry about losing anything.

The emails will still be searchable. You’ll be able to quickly locate the archived message if you need it in the future.

We recommend you set up one “Archive” folder and move everything in there. If you’re a Gmail user, you can simply press the “Archive” button to get the same effect without having to create a new folder.


Archiving your 30+ day old emails may not seem like much, but you’ve now set up the foundation for an efficient email processing system.

By identifying the storage place for all messages that you want to keep, you now have a tucked away place to put those emails when you’re done with them – instead of leaving them in your inbox. In other words, you’ve created a “definition of done” for the emails that come into your inbox as they end up one of two places:

  1. Your archive folder (if you want to keep them)
  2. The trash (if you don’t)

Check back tomorrow for Challenge #2, and let us know in the comments below what it felt like to archive all those emails!


If you’ve haven’t entered the challengeyet, do so here:

Enter the Inbox Zero Challenge Giveaway

Get a chance to win these prizes and receive daily emails for the Inbox Zero Challenge:

You’ll be eligible to win prizes and if you send us a screenshot of your empty inbox, you’ll have a chance to win even bigger prizes.


More Email Tips

If you want more tips and hacks for dealing with email, make sure you subscribe for updates on the Escape Your Email. We have an email system that allows you to spend only 30 minutes a day on email. Sign up here and we’ll let you know when it’s available.

Discover the 1 Lifehack of Highly Successful People

This one lifehack led to the biggest breakthrough of my career. People like Steve Jobs and Oprah have used it to catapult their success, and now you can too.


Posted by RC  | September 9, 2016 at 12:00PM | Reply


If you use Gmail, and if you do archive all emails older than 30 days, know this: Google doesn’t have an Archived folder. Instead, it lumps all archived emails into the Inbox.

Which means you can’t distinguish between archived and unarchived emails. Unless you find a way to tag them somehow.

Worse: at some point, unless you delete unnecessary Gmail content, you’ll max out your cloud drive allocation.

Currently, Google gives us 15GB for free. I archived my >30 day emails, and then I realized that I’m at 42%.

Obviously, that’s not sustainable. So now I’m going through 47,375 emails in my inbox+archived, and deciding which ones to delete.

Posted by Jon  | September 7, 2016 at 7:09AM | Reply

I’m in! Good to know that there is some science behind the 30-day rule (makes me a tad more comfortable doing it)

Posted by Maria  | September 7, 2016 at 6:45AM | Reply

But I’m on it now! Step 1 done – Step 2 about to happen…then up to speed…

Posted by Kate  | September 7, 2016 at 12:46AM | Reply

I’m in! Managing 8 separate email accounts has made me so jaded toward my inbox. It felt great to utilize this method, the first of many for this week that will begin to liberate me from my “email prison,” so to speak! Looking forward to tomorrow’s tip.

Posted by Ryan  | September 6, 2016 at 11:17PM | Reply

I actually have a few emails that are older than 30 days that are important for me to keep, and reply to. I have been putting off replying and checking them, but they are important emails. If I archive them or didn’t take action on them, they would hurt important relationships. I have already put off replying to them long enough. I assume there is a different method I should be taking with those types of emails?

Posted by Vivek  | September 6, 2016 at 2:46AM | Reply

Although I archive my emails but over time they spill over and take control of my inbox. With AE Inbox Zero Challenge will make it as ritual this time.

Thanks AE – Vivek

Posted by Kelly  | September 6, 2016 at 2:33AM | Reply

Done! Also consolidated all my archives into a single file. Saves time searching.

Posted by Dlibby  | September 6, 2016 at 1:24AM | Reply

Going through the ‘to-be-archived’ emails was liberating, and also a bit embarrassing – stuff in there from 2 years ago!!

Posted by Scott  | September 6, 2016 at 1:01AM | Reply

Done. Only 1023 left…

Posted by Maria  | September 6, 2016 at 12:13AM | Reply

I use three different E-mail addresses: personal, junk, and work. Recently, I started to clean them all–had removed over 9k email from the junk inbox. Cleared up the personal one to the last 30 days. Still have to work on the work e-mail. Scary thing–I was hoarding e-mails from 2014!

Posted by Thanh  | September 5, 2016 at 11:47PM | Reply

Not so bad.

Posted by Mike Woodward  | September 5, 2016 at 10:05PM | Reply

All Done

Posted by Harriett  | September 5, 2016 at 9:41PM | Reply

I’m doing this. However I have multiple inboxes. I am not sure each one has its own archive. I know gmail does but aol, edu, etc. I’ll do it and see what happens.

Posted by Katie Shesko  | September 5, 2016 at 8:10PM | Reply

Done! Excited to do this again since I’ve let things get a bit out of control as we transition to back to school with a new schedule and routine to establish.

Posted by Barb  | September 5, 2016 at 7:39PM | Reply

Done! I didn’t have any emails that old because I cleared them out last time :-)

Posted by Katherine  | September 5, 2016 at 7:25PM | Reply

I did this once but things are getting out of hand again because I don’t have a lot of time to spend on email. Not as bad as it was as I unsubscribed from a lot of things. I’m in again!

Posted by Joe P.  | September 5, 2016 at 6:38PM | Reply

I’m in. I have previously whittled the number of email inboxes down to 5 and am working to get rid of at least one more. Most of the inboxes are close to zero but have one that is still out of hand even with archiving all older than 30 days.

Posted by Deborah  | September 5, 2016 at 6:14PM | Reply


Posted by Hema Heffernan  | September 5, 2016 at 6:06PM | Reply

Worked on my work email on the last challenge..this time its my personal email. Done.

Posted by Lois  | September 5, 2016 at 5:48PM | Reply

Wow, that was anxiety-producing! How do I automate Mac Mail to archive e-mails older than 30 days?

Posted by Dominik  | September 5, 2016 at 4:33PM | Reply

I’m in and done archiving of about 5000 emails ;) I really need to learn how to tame my Inbox :)

Posted by Brittany joiner  | September 5, 2016 at 4:31PM | Reply

I’m in!! I actually don’t have any emails in my inbox that are 30 days old! But I did find some older than 7 days and realized the same principle applied!

Posted by Erica  | September 5, 2016 at 4:01PM | Reply

Huh, went back to update with screenshots of ‘done deal’ — TOTAL anxiety at this though I’ve declared email bankruptcy before. I had been chipping away at my inbox steadily. Archived more than 1000 this morning despite BIG resistance.

Whatever this thing around email is, it has legs & roots & is tied to something soooo not about the email.

Posted by Erica  | September 5, 2016 at 2:50PM | Reply

EEEK! holy resistance, batman!! I have 4 inboxes — all are overfull.

This is JUST the “unread” ones:

I’m IN for the challenge, with a great big “yesbut”

Posted by Melissa  | September 5, 2016 at 2:04PM | Reply

This morning I had maybe 5 emails in my inbox and now I have 0. ;) I’ve done the challenge before but it never hurts to keep up with it to make sure bad habits don’t come back!

Posted by Donna  | September 5, 2016 at 1:16PM | Reply

Better than a diet. I feel 10 pounds lighter. Thanks

Posted by Jay Hancock  | September 5, 2016 at 1:11PM | Reply

I’m in and have archived the emails. Hopefully this time it will stick.

Posted by Pedro  | September 5, 2016 at 12:29PM | Reply

I’m in!!!!!

It was a relief looking at all those emails “vanish” from my Google Inbox.

Many thanks.

Posted by Mary Benson  | September 5, 2016 at 12:27PM | Reply

I am in. . .again. I can’t believe how quickly the Inbox fills up again! I did it in March. Tried to stay on top of it.

Posted by PCSS  | September 5, 2016 at 12:27PM | Reply

I’m in.

Reading the blog post took a loooooooot longer than the actual archiving.


Posted by Peter  | September 5, 2016 at 12:18PM | Reply

I’m in. Today’s challenge completed. Not much to do because I participated in the earlier version of “Inbox Zero Challenge”

Posted by Josh  | September 5, 2016 at 11:57AM | Reply

Awwwww yeah. Let’s do this.

Posted by Jay Elliott  | September 5, 2016 at 11:45AM | Reply

Easier than sorting through all of that backlog!!

Posted by Jonathan Wheeler  | September 5, 2016 at 11:35AM | Reply

This has been such a useful tip to my workflow for the last two years. Thanks for your continued excellence.

Posted by Diane  | September 5, 2016 at 11:13AM | Reply

I’m using this challenge against my work outlook email as I have issues with gmail (always used some great client apps).
I just hope the rest of the week’s challenges can be done with default clients as using non-Outlook clients is barred from my organisation.
Still the inbox is far lighter than it was 10 minutes ago! Onwards and upwards!

Posted by Paul  | September 5, 2016 at 11:12AM | Reply

I didn’t have anything older than 30 days as I had cleaned out my inbox before the Holiday Weekend. But I am in.

Posted by Paulo Faria  | September 5, 2016 at 10:48AM | Reply

I am in and loving it.

Day 1:

Paulo 1 – Inbox 0

Posted by Michael  | September 5, 2016 at 10:42AM | Reply

Archive ≠ Delete is a helpful mindset shift to letting go and moving on.

Posted by Norm  | September 5, 2016 at 10:37AM | Reply

Step 1 done. Had already started using Archive and search. Just need to be more diligent

Posted by Sue  | March 31, 2016 at 11:45AM | Reply

Finally getting to Step 1, but better late than never!

Posted by Bruce  | March 31, 2016 at 9:38AM | Reply

Late start, but I’m in.

Posted by Jocelynn M Mosley  | March 30, 2016 at 10:06AM | Reply

So I started a bit late but better late than never. Didn’t realize how many old emails I had until I did this challenge.

Posted by Tay YZ  | March 30, 2016 at 9:12AM | Reply

Yes ! I am in.. I want to zero my in box.

Posted by Amit Taneja  | March 30, 2016 at 1:12AM | Reply

I am in and I completed the Challange

Posted by Katie Shesko  | March 29, 2016 at 10:52PM | Reply

I’m in. Getting to it a day late due to a deadline, but better late than never.

Posted by Rob M  | March 29, 2016 at 4:51PM | Reply

Ouch. That was more painful than I thought it would be! It took a day and a half to bring the merciless guillotine down on the older messages. And yet, I’m now looking a remarkable thing: only 88 messages in my inbox. Looking forward to seeing what Step #2 brings!

Posted by Eric  | March 29, 2016 at 4:25PM | Reply

Easy first step. Thanks!

Posted by Daryl Barker  | March 29, 2016 at 4:21PM | Reply

Love the archive idea rather than delete – think I’ll set up an Outlook rule to do this automatically… If it can be done this way by using rules…

Posted by Divaldo  | March 29, 2016 at 4:13PM | Reply

Challenge accepted and first day completed!

Posted by Susan  | March 29, 2016 at 4:13PM | Reply

I’m late for everything. That’s another thing I have to work on – time management – there’s never enough of it. Hopefully this challenge will handle the time I spend (waste) on processing my email. Done! (but I’m nervous about what I put in there)

Posted by Gil  | March 29, 2016 at 3:16PM | Reply

Wonderful idea!!!!
All done with 4 accounts!!!!

Posted by Enwongo Ettang  | March 29, 2016 at 1:29PM | Reply

I know I am a day late to this challenge, but I am done!!!

Posted by Adi S.  | March 29, 2016 at 1:11PM | Reply

My e-mails are auto-archiving after 15 days, so the first task is accomplished.

Posted by Claire  | March 29, 2016 at 12:28PM | Reply

Done! not for the first time, alas..

Posted by Matt Vincent  | March 29, 2016 at 12:00PM | Reply

I’m a day late, sorry! But I will say that I don’t have any emails older than 30 days so nothing to archive there. But I do love the idea of archiving emails rather than trying to place them into curated folders. What a time waster that was!

Posted by Melissa  | March 29, 2016 at 11:45AM | Reply

I usually keep my inbox down to less than 20 emails anyway. So there were none that were 30+ days old!

Posted by Alison  | March 29, 2016 at 11:21AM | Reply

I’m in, but already regularly archive emails as it’s company policy. Our inboxes have a limited capacity. I look forward to the next tip…

Posted by Rick  | March 29, 2016 at 10:41AM | Reply

This is my holy grail! I’m in. I use Sanebox so I suppose I should apply the 30 day rule to those boxes too? i.e., @sanelater, @sanenews, @ sanebulk?
Thanks for the motivation AE.

Posted by Francesca  | March 29, 2016 at 10:41AM | Reply

Europe was on vacation yesterday.
I hope my comment counts for the final prize.
I will comply with your 5-d challenge as I need to get rid of this frustration around emails. I am sure you will give this misding tiny info which will make the difference.

Posted by Bob DeSilets  | March 29, 2016 at 10:36AM | Reply

Fantastic! My work inbox is now down to 570 messages since 2/28/2016. I filter a ton of messages every day (400+), but there are still a bunch that hit my inbox that I don’t deal with regularly. I’ve been triaging my Google inbox because I didn’t consider it my “important” email and have been ignoring stuff that has built up over time. I’m now down to 117 messages there (!!!!), and I think I’ve filtered 10000 + to my archive box. I didn’t realize how much of a weight I was carrying until this simple, hard cutoff.

Posted by Stephen Byrne  | March 29, 2016 at 10:35AM | Reply

I’m IN (better late than never). Great tip and thanks to Briana for the steer on “older_than:30d” search in Google Mail!

Posted by Bruce Farley  | March 29, 2016 at 10:31AM | Reply

I’m in–this one wasn’t too hard–after coming back from 4plus days of being sick–it just took a few hours to handle them all (respond | delete| turn into task, etc.). I can’t live sustainably with that much time going to email so hoping | trusting this is really going to provide some help….

Posted by Carolyn  | March 29, 2016 at 10:30AM | Reply

It was difficult, but I did step one! Of course, I’m late adding comment . . .

Posted by Toby  | March 29, 2016 at 10:27AM | Reply

I am in.

Posted by Jeff Grosse  | March 29, 2016 at 9:21AM | Reply

Great to be starting this challenge already at Inbox Zero, but looking forward to the tips that can keep me that way.

Posted by JD  | March 29, 2016 at 9:09AM | Reply

A day late but I’m in!

Posted by Hani  | March 29, 2016 at 9:05AM | Reply

i am in

Posted by Lisa F  | March 29, 2016 at 9:02AM | Reply

I’m in – had to set up two archive folders due to work/personal email conflicts but otherwise this was easy enough.

Posted by K  | March 29, 2016 at 9:01AM | Reply

Done! Though traveling and in another time zone — already I feel better!

Posted by Phil  | March 29, 2016 at 8:51AM | Reply

This is on!!

Posted by Zoltan  | March 29, 2016 at 8:48AM | Reply

I’m in.

Posted by Mark Mason  | March 29, 2016 at 8:43AM | Reply

I’m in! Thanks guys. Email archived.

Posted by MB  | March 29, 2016 at 8:39AM | Reply

Done! I’m in

Posted by Lisa Hoekstra  | March 29, 2016 at 7:59AM | Reply

Thanks for the tip! I love all the work you do and look forward to this challenge. I know my in box will thank you as will the peace of mind I will receive in taking more control of my email. I’m all in!

Posted by Gustav  | March 29, 2016 at 6:47AM | Reply

I’m in :)

Posted by David Harms  | March 29, 2016 at 6:26AM | Reply

I am in for the challenges,,,, I need the help to get organized using my email. It does feel good to get all those older emails archived so I can see what I have to work with. Looking forward and am curious of tomorrow’s challenge!

Posted by Rob  | March 29, 2016 at 4:38AM | Reply

Only mails from the long weekend there now!

Posted by Stewart  | March 29, 2016 at 4:37AM | Reply

Done. Moved 680 mails from my personal account, leaving 215, and 977 from my work email, leaving 63.

I’ve tried several attempts over the last 12 months to get to Inbox zero and it lasts for a while but I have tended to fall into the trap of “I’ll leave it in the Inbox for now and archive it later” and never really do.

Posted by Jaap Wiering  | March 29, 2016 at 4:36AM | Reply

The oldest mail is now from March 23: a newsletter from AE.

Posted by Philipp  | March 29, 2016 at 4:26AM | Reply


Posted by ping zhang  | March 29, 2016 at 4:18AM | Reply

I have set up a folder for my old mail before 2 or 3 months.
It is nothing to do today.

Posted by Paul  | March 29, 2016 at 3:45AM | Reply

Im taking care of personnel email accounts now.
I will take on the work account in the morning.

Posted by Susan  | March 29, 2016 at 3:43AM | Reply

Woo Hoo!
Done! 198 emails swallowed.. I’m using Apple mail’s archive “on my mac” & have set a rule to auto move any emails over 30 days into the archive :)

Posted by GW  | March 29, 2016 at 3:08AM | Reply

I’m in. A clean Inbox feels great.
I have made tow folder
2. Archive
1. ToDo which also was added to my Todoist app.

Posted by Hanna  | March 29, 2016 at 3:05AM | Reply

Done! :)

Posted by Chris  | March 29, 2016 at 2:57AM | Reply


Posted by hef920  | March 29, 2016 at 2:45AM | Reply

Omg, why am i so excited about this…there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Posted by Neil  | March 29, 2016 at 2:25AM | Reply

Done — and I’m in!

Posted by Kate  | March 29, 2016 at 1:54AM | Reply


Posted by Philipp  | March 29, 2016 at 1:45AM | Reply

Also in with the challenge, fortunately nothing to do right now, no old emails

Posted by Hans  | March 29, 2016 at 1:45AM | Reply

Very easy to do and immediate impact. Looking forward to Tip 2!

Posted by Árpád  | March 29, 2016 at 1:38AM | Reply

This was easy.

Posted by Jamie Otelsberg  | March 29, 2016 at 1:36AM | Reply

done :)

Posted by Ken Choat  | March 29, 2016 at 1:06AM | Reply

I am in and really looking forward to the challenge and encouragement from everyone else.

Posted by Kevin  | March 29, 2016 at 1:00AM | Reply

I am in. Step 1 done, and I agree with the information on importance of emails older than 30 days and on stickiness of commitments. Looking forward to step 2.

Posted by Morgan  | March 29, 2016 at 12:34AM | Reply

In 👍🏻

Posted by Matt  | March 29, 2016 at 12:12AM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Kat S  | March 29, 2016 at 12:03AM | Reply


Posted by Taylor  | March 28, 2016 at 11:56PM | Reply

Done! (I cheated because all of my emails were from the past 2 weeks.)

Posted by Peter  | March 28, 2016 at 11:30PM | Reply

So far so good!

Posted by Mike Dodson  | March 28, 2016 at 11:19PM | Reply

I didn’t have any messages in my inbox over 30 days old, so this step was easy. :-)

Posted by EMA  | March 28, 2016 at 11:06PM | Reply

Done and done… excited for the next lesson!

Posted by Caroline  | March 28, 2016 at 11:01PM | Reply

First step done!

Posted by Mark  | March 28, 2016 at 10:59PM | Reply


Posted by Allan  | March 28, 2016 at 10:57PM | Reply

One day closer to zero :-)

Posted by EMA  | March 28, 2016 at 10:56PM | Reply

All complete! Looking forward to this :)

Posted by Joshua Fritsch  | March 28, 2016 at 10:52PM | Reply

There is something so very satisfying about watching those stress-holding, old emails disappear into the abyss… done!

Posted by Louise  | March 28, 2016 at 10:45PM | Reply

Done ! : )

Posted by Kimi  | March 28, 2016 at 10:44PM | Reply

Done! I have been working on my email all weekend in preparation for this Challenge. I like the logic behind this step. Thank you!

Posted by Gail  | March 28, 2016 at 10:40PM | Reply

When I delete my mail from one device, it is still in the inboxes of my other devices. Is there a way to delete so that they are deleted or moved across all my devices at once so I don’t have to delete each email on every device individually?

Thank you.

Posted by APW  | March 28, 2016 at 10:35PM | Reply

Done. Looking forward to the inbox zero week!

Posted by Patty  | March 28, 2016 at 10:27PM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Cathy  | March 28, 2016 at 10:12PM | Reply

Thanks for posting the steps to follow to archive gmail messages older than 30 days, Briana.

Posted by Anne  | March 28, 2016 at 10:08PM | Reply

Great first step. My question: What’s your advice for multiple email addresses? I currently have an archive folder for each one of them as some are IMAP accounts that sync the folders, others are POP accounts.

Posted by Jane  | March 28, 2016 at 9:39PM | Reply

David, my situation is very similar to yours – a couple of part time roles, a research project and some professional issues to stay up to date with, and so I have 4 email addresses. 2 of these email addresses are on Exchange accounts. I have these all feeding into Mail on my mac.

If others have know about simple steps we can take to create rules or automate this process that would be fantastic! Suggestions need to be simple though … I have not been able to set up a folder called ‘archive’ on one of my addresses and I get a message saying there is already such an folder, although I cannot see it.

Still, I managed to set up one archive folder for one email account, and have moved a few thousand emails to archive.

This felt great! Now I have to face up to learning the steps to do the same with my other accounts. Sometimes the learning/set up feels very daunting

Posted by Bob  | March 28, 2016 at 9:17PM | Reply

I’m in!

I have been using Evernote as my email archive. Unfortunately, it is so easy to get email into it that it becomes a bit of a junk drawer!

Posted by Curtis  | March 28, 2016 at 8:56PM | Reply

All Archived…

Posted by Daniel  | March 28, 2016 at 8:53PM | Reply

Ok, done. I still have a couple hu

Posted by Cathy  | March 28, 2016 at 8:53PM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Maxime  | March 28, 2016 at 8:51PM | Reply

Done. I put my faith in you. :)

Posted by Michele  | March 28, 2016 at 8:48PM | Reply

I use Outlook, not Gmail. I read the article last week and moved what was older than 2 weeks into my “Processed” folder (I archive everything at the end of each year.) However, I did a quick check first so that anything important moved into “Tasks” before wholesale filing the rest.
I must admit that by not having so many to look at in the inbox, I can get through my emails much faster every day. (Not checking email over the weekend let it pile up again, but I should be at zero by the end of the day again.)
I’ll hang in, but I have a feeling you are just going to follow the system you have written about before (filing into reply, waiting, tasks, etc.)

Posted by Jay  | March 28, 2016 at 8:37PM | Reply

Done and looking forward to day two!

Posted by Annag Chandler  | March 28, 2016 at 8:33PM | Reply

Getting there. Travelling now and some of the old emails are waiting to have attachments read and saved.

Posted by Graeme Hill  | March 28, 2016 at 8:31PM | Reply

I’m done
Archive complete

Posted by David  | March 28, 2016 at 8:16PM | Reply

Thanks Jason, I’ll give it a try.

Posted by Gordon L  | March 28, 2016 at 8:03PM | Reply

Reset….we begin again.

Posted by Caroly  | March 28, 2016 at 7:55PM | Reply

Sweet relief.

Posted by Ray  | March 28, 2016 at 7:15PM | Reply

I’m in.

Posted by Brandon  | March 28, 2016 at 7:09PM | Reply


Posted by John  | March 28, 2016 at 7:07PM | Reply

I am in deep! I am close to zero right now, but cannot seem to stay there consistently. I am hoping the challenge will teach me to stick to the habit!

Posted by Terri  | March 28, 2016 at 7:00PM | Reply

This didn’t apply to my work address, but I decided to do this for my personal email, which I had become somewhat numb to what was there.

Posted by Frank  | March 28, 2016 at 7:00PM | Reply

I’m in.

Posted by Lovidia  | March 28, 2016 at 6:57PM | Reply

Day 1 complete. I’m looking forward to the next challenge.

Posted by Jeff Leger  | March 28, 2016 at 6:51PM | Reply

Done and it feels great!

Posted by Paul Weber  | March 28, 2016 at 6:47PM | Reply


Posted by Matt  | March 28, 2016 at 6:44PM | Reply

That was painful to do but somewhat relieving afterward. Whew!!

Posted by Mark  | March 28, 2016 at 6:27PM | Reply


Posted by Dan  | March 28, 2016 at 6:22PM | Reply

Done, done, and done… three different email addresses to manage. A fairly painless process that makes be nervous. Why can’t I trust archive like so many others?

Posted by sleepydwarf  | March 28, 2016 at 6:19PM | Reply

Done this for home email. Work will have to wait till I go back tomorrow!

Posted by Raoul  | March 28, 2016 at 5:54PM | Reply


Posted by Alejandro  | March 28, 2016 at 5:51PM | Reply

1st challenge done!

Posted by Luisa  | March 28, 2016 at 5:42PM | Reply

I can’t wait to feel efficient! DAY One = CHECK!

Posted by Kim  | March 28, 2016 at 5:34PM | Reply

Done! =) I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders … or rather from my inbox. hehe! Thank you for the tip!

Posted by Barry Canfield  | March 28, 2016 at 5:30PM | Reply

Maybe this is the kick I need to get back on that Zero Inbox status. Just done it for Home and Work mailboxes

Posted by JW  | March 28, 2016 at 4:55PM | Reply

I archived 853 of 946 emails in my personal inbox, which I lost control of about a year ago when our newborn was arriving. Work email inbox only had about 30 messages, 15 older than a month (I have pretty strict filtering rules to keep my work inbox neat). I went through the 15 old ones individually which were mostly trash or links to articles I wanted to read later. DONE :)

Posted by Chris Lassiter  | March 28, 2016 at 4:34PM | Reply

I am excited to be “in” on Day 1! There is no one whom I trust more than the Asian Efficiency team in helping me overcome my inbox anxieties and overall e-mail management phobia.

Let’s do this thing!

Posted by Andrew  | March 28, 2016 at 4:26PM | Reply


Posted by Marieke  | March 28, 2016 at 3:43PM | Reply


Posted by kay  | March 28, 2016 at 2:44PM | Reply

I’m done!

Posted by Pedro  | March 28, 2016 at 2:29PM | Reply

OK, done. Step one completed.

Posted by Avid Reader  | March 28, 2016 at 2:26PM | Reply

All done! 45,000+ messages in inbox shrunk down to 484. Took several minutes even for Google servers just to process this junk.

Posted by Stephen  | March 28, 2016 at 2:24PM | Reply

Great tip – done!

My work email was pretty much okay (nothing >30 days) but my personal email inbox was in a bad way! Things are looking much better there now.

It’s a bank holiday here, so a good day to get started.

Looking forward to day two.

Posted by Lisa  | March 28, 2016 at 2:14PM | Reply

I really need this challenge! Inbox went from 12,000+ emails to 151. Looking forward to getting to Inbox Zero. Thanks!

Posted by Cecilia  | March 28, 2016 at 2:10PM | Reply

Done! But I got a lot of mail in the archive folder!

Posted by Aaron M  | March 28, 2016 at 1:59PM | Reply

Done. I’m in

Posted by Marcin  | March 28, 2016 at 1:45PM | Reply

OK, this looks nice, but what if I actually don’t use a folder-based email client? For me, “archiving” means “deleting from the server and leaving only on my disk & backup”, and I don’t even have an “inbox”. The closest thing for me are bookmarks: “today’s messages”, “messages since yesterday”, “messages from the last 7 days” and “unread messages”. So, while technically I do have an “inbox”, my search-based email client doesn’t even have an easy way to view it. (It doesn’t mean that my email setup is without problems. It’s not. What haunts me is hundreds of old messages marked “unread”, which means that they may require some action, and I hope the challenge will contain some kind of solution for that.)

Posted by Rick  | March 28, 2016 at 1:42PM | Reply

Step One completed

Posted by Ratana  | March 28, 2016 at 1:23PM | Reply

There’s something so satisfying about seeing those little e-mails ‘disappear’ from my inbox and into the Archives/Trash! Day 1, complete.

Posted by Anne W  | March 28, 2016 at 1:23PM | Reply

I’ve done this trick before (at your recommendation) and it was GREAT. I went back to systematically work through them and it helped me focus on the more current e-mails.

Posted by Jon Bash  | March 28, 2016 at 1:16PM | Reply

Well, I didn’t actually have anything older than 1 day in there since I archive everything every day… but I did take this opportunity myself to ask myself why things are in my inbox, and take action to make them not needed there anymore. :D

Posted by Phill Coxon  | March 28, 2016 at 1:16PM | Reply


Posted by Kim  | March 28, 2016 at 1:12PM | Reply

Done, but not sure if that makes me feel better… now I wonder what’s lurking in that archive folder..

Posted by Nagesh  | March 28, 2016 at 1:11PM | Reply

Completed the 1st Step as indicated, I am in.

Posted by Jason  | March 28, 2016 at 1:11PM | Reply

@David Negrin As stated in guide, your Gmail accounts will automatically be archived by clicking that icon in webmail, or depending on your email client the Archive Message option will do the same. In my experience Exchange will do the same and create an Archive folder automatically (using Apple Mail), not sure about hotmail. My best suggestion is to do it for one email in each account and examine the behaviour. Create an Archive folder next if you need to. Apple Mail Archive option will use that folder afterwards.

Posted by RadDoc  | March 28, 2016 at 1:10PM | Reply


Posted by Nagesh  | March 28, 2016 at 1:09PM | Reply

Completed the 1st Step as indicated. I am in.

Posted by Wilson  | March 28, 2016 at 1:09PM | Reply

Done. The interesting thing about the remaining ones is that more than half of them are in the Promotions tab.

Posted by Erzsebet  | March 28, 2016 at 1:06PM | Reply

I’m in, and I have just completed the first part of the challenge!

Posted by Susan  | March 28, 2016 at 1:06PM | Reply

I think I went just a tad overboard with the archiving in one account and archived even the up-to-date stuff (in the Social tab in Gmail :O )
It does kill me because I know a lot of that stuff could be trashed if I just had the time to go through it…
Eagerly awaiting the next tip!

Posted by Jason  | March 28, 2016 at 1:06PM | Reply

Should have done this long ago as a quick catchup. Done!

Posted by Stuart  | March 28, 2016 at 12:59PM | Reply

Done, just need outlook to catch up with what seems like a mammoth reindexing!. Look forward to hitting zero

Posted by Gizem  | March 28, 2016 at 12:54PM | Reply

Done. Admittedly it was only one email (I do manage to get to Inbox Zero on a regular basis, but eventually it escapes me every time. Maybe this time will be different :) )

Posted by Thijs  | March 28, 2016 at 12:54PM | Reply

I’m in – Today however N/A for me as the inbox is already with e-mails not older than a month….

Posted by Jason Lewis  | March 28, 2016 at 12:44PM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Leon  | March 28, 2016 at 12:44PM | Reply

Done :)

Finally on my way to inbox Zero

Posted by April  | March 28, 2016 at 12:31PM | Reply

I found it initially hard to let go of these but glad I did it. yeah – step 1!

Posted by Michael  | March 28, 2016 at 12:24PM | Reply

Got a little shocked as I thought the mails where gone because I saw the archive folder only after restarting Apple Mail.

After archiving about the half of 260 mails I am surprised about the ratio of archived to mails from within 30 days. And I felt an urge to go through the archived instead of the new ones.

Posted by Jon W  | March 28, 2016 at 12:22PM | Reply

Nice — all gone.

Posted by Jaime  | March 28, 2016 at 12:17PM | Reply

Done!! Good suggestion! Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Posted by David Negrin  | March 28, 2016 at 12:14PM | Reply

I’m using 3-4 email addresses one for work (I’m a professor), one for school (I’m in a post grad program), and one for personal email and one personal I’m transitioning off. They are Exchange, Gmail, Gmail, Hotmail.

Do you suggest I create an archive for each account?

What’s the best way to deal with this?

[email protected]

Posted by James DeLoach  | March 28, 2016 at 12:14PM | Reply

Excellent step 1 – not very many over 30 days, but there were several nagging older ones out there – this forced me to address them and move on. I should have done that weeks ago and wouldn’t have had been using headspace on them.

Looking forward to the rest of the process…

Posted by Steve  | March 28, 2016 at 12:11PM | Reply

I have my many different projects set up as different folders in my in box. I try to file my emails in there once I have created a todo or have dealt with them…This is a great help and leaves my adrenalin levels reasonably low. However my problem is leaving this for a few days and it becomes so overwhelming it causes stress.

This challenge will help me stay committed to emptying my in box daily?

Posted by BS  | March 28, 2016 at 12:07PM | Reply

Done – that was easy!

Posted by Janeson Keeley  | March 28, 2016 at 12:05PM | Reply

Well, THAT was an eye opener! There were a lot of emails that had been hanging out in my inbox for 30 days (or longer) that I could either handle in two minutes, delete, or archive. I’m feeling lighter already!

Posted by Peter Banerjea  | March 28, 2016 at 12:02PM | Reply

I am in! Just had one email older than 30 days though.

Posted by Nick  | March 28, 2016 at 12:01PM | Reply


Posted by Jeanie  | March 28, 2016 at 11:59AM | Reply

So hard to resist looking through everything to figure out if it should be saved or deleted! I just archived it, without looking at it all. And with my promotions/update/forums folders, I just deleted everything. I also found a bunch of emails I never opened, deleted a bunch of them and found a few gems, or articles I wanted to read and are now very relevant. This was an easy enough task. Thanks.

Posted by Katherine  | March 28, 2016 at 11:53AM | Reply

All done, although I’ll admit that basically everything that I archived were AE newsletters and Dojo emails that I wanted to read but hadn’t gotten to yet. So now they’re all in Evernote so I can dig into the links. So much content, so little time…

Posted by Mike  | March 28, 2016 at 11:44AM | Reply

Much easier to search than look at a full inbox.

Posted by Brovaktaren  | March 28, 2016 at 11:41AM | Reply

I’m in. Usually store stuff to specific, project related mail folders. Will try a unified archive for now.

Posted by Ann Schmitz  | March 28, 2016 at 11:39AM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Andy  | March 28, 2016 at 11:36AM | Reply

Done! Does it count that I already practice inbox zero, have optimised it to my own workflow but just wanted to join the challenge to see if I can help anyone in the comments?


Posted by Tracy  | March 28, 2016 at 11:34AM | Reply

On board. Great tip! Also added an OS X 10.11 Mail rule to automate this process every 31 days. Nice to see my Inbox go from 840 messages down to a much more manageable 16 not yet dealt with messages.

Posted by Martijn  | March 28, 2016 at 11:32AM | Reply

In and done! :)

Posted by Veeyah  | March 28, 2016 at 11:32AM | Reply

I’m all in and can’t wait for the next challenge.

Posted by Frank  | March 28, 2016 at 11:17AM | Reply

1616 down…..912 to go….Perfect time of year for a program like this….before it gets too deep :)
Thank You!!

Posted by Joe  | March 28, 2016 at 11:10AM | Reply

Let’s do this!

Posted by Suhrid G  | March 28, 2016 at 11:05AM | Reply

First step done. Looking forward to the next inbox zero challenge!

Posted by Eva  | March 28, 2016 at 11:01AM | Reply

Started the challenge today :) My inbox contained 14777 mails, and is down to 186 Emails. And during the process I also did some sorting out. I am surprised that there are still so many emails left, counting only those of the past 30 days. Surely, I need to do some work on the archive as well – but one step at a time. Curious to see what’s coming up next :)

Posted by Ysabel Woody  | March 28, 2016 at 10:58AM | Reply

Very excited to clear it out! I love a fresh start.

Posted by ATL  | March 28, 2016 at 10:57AM | Reply

N/A. Nothing older than 5 days.

My physical inbox, however, is a disaster zone. I’ll work on that when I get home and report back.

Posted by Michael  | March 28, 2016 at 10:57AM | Reply

Good tip. I actually did it this morning before reading the challange – even if my folder has another name, the principle is the same

Posted by Tom  | March 28, 2016 at 10:55AM | Reply

Done! Thanks, Briana, for the clear GMAIL directions. Your method worked a treat.

Posted by mlg  | March 28, 2016 at 10:54AM | Reply

Done. A little anxious about archiving those old messages that I need/want to keep, but I know you guys will have a plan to address those that will be way better than leaving them in my inbox.

Posted by Bonnie  | March 28, 2016 at 10:53AM | Reply

Wow, that was easy – and feels good. @Copper, thanks for the Apple Mail tip, good to know!

Posted by Jan Depta  | March 28, 2016 at 10:50AM | Reply


Posted by Chris  | March 28, 2016 at 10:40AM | Reply


Posted by JL JAB  | March 28, 2016 at 10:39AM | Reply


Posted by Heather  | March 28, 2016 at 10:34AM | Reply

Done :-)

Posted by Michael  | March 28, 2016 at 10:25AM | Reply

All set. Ready for #2 tomorrow!

Posted by Sergei Kolobov  | March 28, 2016 at 10:25AM | Reply

Done! So glad to see I’m down to only 66 conversations in my personal Inbox. I can always search for the older messages if needed – they are still there in All Mail (I’m using Gmail).

Posted by Louise  | March 28, 2016 at 10:22AM | Reply

I’m in! Challenge 1: complete. :)

Posted by Debbie  | March 28, 2016 at 10:22AM | Reply


Posted by Clemens  | March 28, 2016 at 10:18AM | Reply

The ones are now in the archive.

Posted by Michael Setnicky  | March 28, 2016 at 10:17AM | Reply


Posted by Boon Shin  | March 28, 2016 at 10:15AM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Thorsten  | March 28, 2016 at 10:06AM | Reply

Started and Done. I’ll give it another try to reach Inbox – Zero.

Posted by Brad  | March 28, 2016 at 10:02AM | Reply

Dedicated to completing all five days. Thank you for another AE learning opportunity!

Posted by Robin  | March 28, 2016 at 10:01AM | Reply

So long, farewell, aid Wiedersehen, goodbye to call my old emails!

Posted by Mary Benson  | March 28, 2016 at 10:00AM | Reply

That is a relief. I have read about certain people only opening their regular mail every 3 weeks, on the theory that anything important would have already been dealt with, which made me less anxious about archiving everything older than 30 days.

Posted by Dom  | March 28, 2016 at 9:59AM | Reply

I’m in!

Posted by Mary Benson  | March 28, 2016 at 9:58AM | Reply

Thanks for those directions, Briana! I had not used any of those commands and didn’t even know I could be doing that. I would have gone screen by screen. . .

Posted by Jeff  | March 28, 2016 at 9:51AM | Reply

That was a lot of emails to archive. (Sigh).

Posted by MCB  | March 28, 2016 at 9:51AM | Reply

I’m in

Posted by Elaine  | March 28, 2016 at 9:48AM | Reply

I’m in! I have a filtering system and I had to let go of a lot that had been filtered into ‘newsletters’

Posted by Phil  | March 28, 2016 at 9:37AM | Reply

All done – but had a few accounts to tackle separately (eg Exchange)

Posted by Erin  | March 28, 2016 at 9:32AM | Reply

Done, though I would feel better if I had a decent search function available.

Posted by Dustin  | March 28, 2016 at 9:31AM | Reply

First step done! No messages to remove for me :)

Posted by Robby  | March 28, 2016 at 9:31AM | Reply

Done! Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Posted by Sergii  | March 28, 2016 at 9:29AM | Reply


Posted by Derek  | March 28, 2016 at 9:28AM | Reply

Nailed it. Thanks!

Posted by Steven  | March 28, 2016 at 9:24AM | Reply


Posted by Tajinder  | March 28, 2016 at 9:23AM | Reply

How to select email that is older than 30 days in gmail? Either it let me select all or just 50 odd emails that are on the first page of many on the current screen.


Posted by Robert Mallin  | March 28, 2016 at 9:21AM | Reply

Step one, done!!!

Posted by Finn  | March 28, 2016 at 9:20AM | Reply

I’m looking forward to this week. Thankfully, I don’t get too many emails but all of them need replies or are actionable in some way. I really wish there would be more stuff I could just archive. It felt great.

Posted by Dale  | March 28, 2016 at 9:20AM | Reply

Nothing older than 30 days but getting close to it…

Posted by Vibhor  | March 28, 2016 at 9:20AM | Reply

it is amazing
earlier i had a misconception for archive, but now i am all set for this just because of #AsianEfficient inbox zero challenge!

Posted by Lisle  | March 28, 2016 at 9:19AM | Reply

good first post. Looking forward to the rest of the week and mastering Zero Inbox

Posted by Frank  | March 28, 2016 at 9:17AM | Reply

That’s easy. Pretty easy.

Posted by Briana  | March 28, 2016 at 9:12AM | Reply

Holy moly, that was a lot of email! My Outlook inbox at work went from 6799 to 890 emails, and my gmail went from 14,601 to 1243. MUCH more manageable!

For those wondering how to easily find and archive those emails in Gmail (as I did), here’s the quick overview:
– In the “settings” dropdown menu (the gear icon at the top right of your emails, select “Configure Inbox”.
– Uncheck all the folders, if you have any, so everything is showing up in your inbox.
– Use the search “older_than:30d” and then select all using the checkbox at the top left
– At the top of all the messages will be a link that says “Select all messages in this search”, or something to that effect. Click that.
– Use the archive button (the one that has a down arrow) to send them all, and wait a few minutes!

… Happy archiving!!

Posted by PaulD  | March 28, 2016 at 9:11AM | Reply

I am confused . When you say ”Arhive” you mean a folder named Arhive or you arhive all the x nr of emails
Thank you !

Posted by Israel Lang  | March 28, 2016 at 9:11AM | Reply


Posted by Chris A  | March 28, 2016 at 9:09AM | Reply

Started the inbox challenge today as well. Looking forward to see that number drop to zero and stay there.

Posted by olivier choquet  | March 28, 2016 at 9:09AM | Reply

Easy starting !
In fact I am doing that at the end of every month… I should do it more frequently.


Posted by Danny  | March 28, 2016 at 9:06AM | Reply

Done – and looking forward for the next step ahead.

Posted by Justin Dinerman  | March 28, 2016 at 9:05AM | Reply

Done. Great tip.

Posted by Billy Mansfield  | March 28, 2016 at 9:02AM | Reply


Posted by Nils  | March 28, 2016 at 8:57AM | Reply

Started your challenge today. But #1 was n/a for me too, as I have nothing older than 30d in my inbox.
Anyway, looking forward to getting your next challenges.


Posted by Leonardo  | March 28, 2016 at 8:57AM | Reply

First step: done! :-)

Posted by Bill  | March 28, 2016 at 8:57AM | Reply

That was easy.

Posted by Nicole  | March 28, 2016 at 8:54AM | Reply

What a great first step. Using this for my work email. It already feels more manageable.

Posted by Mark  | March 28, 2016 at 8:45AM | Reply

All done but it took me longer than I had expected. I created an Apple Mail Smart mailbox, however, I needed to Archive the emails based on their respective mailboxes. I have 1 for work, 1 for my Charity work, 1 for Personal and 1 for SPAM. SPAM was pretty much delete but the others I needed to handle separately. Any ideas how to best handle this so I can build it into my system?

Posted by Tomas  | March 28, 2016 at 8:44AM | Reply

Feels good and like a got a weight lifted from my shoulders.

Posted by Denis  | March 28, 2016 at 8:43AM | Reply

Thanks. already have the folder, but may automate the 30 day archive as a rule.

Posted by CK  | March 28, 2016 at 8:42AM | Reply

Done. That was easy enough.

Posted by Peter  | March 28, 2016 at 8:40AM | Reply

N/A for me, no emails older than 30 days in my inbox.

Posted by copper  | March 28, 2016 at 8:39AM | Reply

Apple’s Mail also has an archive folder these days. You can assign a particular folder to the task using the “Menu Mailbox>Use This Mailbox As>Archive Mailbox” and then the shortcut key is “ctrl-command-A”.

Posted by Alexander  | March 28, 2016 at 8:38AM | Reply

I’m in, and have completed the first part of the challenge.

Posted by Katherine  | March 28, 2016 at 8:36AM | Reply

Wow! I am retired and spend a lot of time with my email I could use for something fun. With all the things I subscribe to, my inbox has gotten a bit out of hand. I just archived over 14,000 emails! That was really liberating. I still have 190 in my inbox but I feel like tackling it now. Looking forward to tomorrow’s tip.

Posted by Rachel McCormack  | March 28, 2016 at 8:32AM | Reply

Done – and interesting to see how the numbers break down: there were fewer emails than I’d guessed would go to archive (which is good) but they represent stuff I feel stuck on or bad about not doing (which is not good!) Looking forward to tomorrow :)

Posted by Debra  | March 28, 2016 at 8:31AM | Reply

Here’s hoping to complete this challenge. I’m really going to try.

Posted by Andrei Iancu  | March 28, 2016 at 8:29AM | Reply

All done. Blank inbox is here :)

Posted by Scott  | March 28, 2016 at 8:27AM | Reply

Wow! Already feels better to not have all those emails clouding my view. Great tip!!!

Posted by Perry Bruns  | March 28, 2016 at 8:26AM | Reply

I’m in.

Posted by Glenn  | March 28, 2016 at 8:20AM | Reply

I’m doing it but important to note that you saved them for a reason – so add it to your to do / task manager to address these issues (if still relevant)

Posted by Marcus  | March 28, 2016 at 8:17AM | Reply


Posted by Paul  | March 28, 2016 at 7:17AM | Reply

Done and done!

BTW, small bug on your commitment Tweet button: pulls through “I’m starting my #AsianEfficient journaling challenge!

Leave a Reply