Email Bankruptcy Continues to Spread

Today’s Washington Post carries an article about an increasing number of people who find themselves having to declare email bankruptcy.

The article is full of sad cases of people who think that declaring email bankruptcy will solve their problem. It won’t. I’ve talked about why email bankruptcy is worse in some ways than financial bankruptcy, and this shows why email bankruptcy is not a solution.

Just as people without financial skills may find themselves bankrupt, people who lack email and time-management skills will find themselves wanting to declare email bankruptcy. People are usually restricted from starting businesses immediately after a financial bankruptcy. In a similar manner, people who suffer from extreme email overload should ensure they get some training in how to handle their workload before they get back in the game.

It’s not just a skill these people are lacking, though. It’s a way of viewing their inboxes and the place the inbox occupies in their life. I’m always saying that email overload is a state-of-mind, and David Ferris puts this very nicely:

“A lot of people like the feeling that they have everything done at the end of the day. They can’t have it anymore.”

I speak from experience. I once declared “job bankruptcy” — my inability to cope with my workload, in which email played a major part, prompted me to tender my resignation. My boss did not want to accept it, but I was determined. During the time that I worked out my notice, I adopted the Getting Things Done method. All of a sudden, I had more than doubled my productivity and reduced my stress tremendously. GTD worked for me because it solved both the practical and psychological sides of the problem. I found that I could do the job well after all, and I continued working there for another 18 months!


14 responses to “Email Bankruptcy Continues to Spread

  1. Pingback: comment bankruptcy « Blogs are like opinions. Everybody has one…

  2. When you throw in the stress some of us have of more than one email address – I have at least 8 for various businesses, etc. It becomes a huge load to keep track.

    Some people email me many paragraphs, when if it’s more than a sentence or two I might not get back for weeks. Thus, short and sweet gets answered, long gets put on hold.

  3. You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. (See my site for details), I would love for you to participate.

  4. Itzy

    You’ve been tagged for the “Does Most Leadership Suck Challenge”. Check the link for details.

    Take care…


  5. Hi Itzy,

    After Priscilla Palmer’s self development list Jenny and I have decided to try to help build the self development community. So we are holding a little contest. I would like to invite you, and anyone else interested, to find out more details at Win a $25 Gift Certificate.

  6. I believe that by just being a part of “Priscilla’ Palmer’s Personal Development list obligates each of us to also post this list. You like me (Killeris at “Attitude, the Ultimate Power”) are on this list. If you have already posted it, THANK YOU. If you have not posted it, I am officially putting out a challenge that you add additional sites that fit the theme and post it. This list can be found at:

  7. You are so right! I don’t know how many times I thought never again and have just wanted to close down accounts. Yes, many is the day where my inbox runneth over with junk. But taking a deep breath and a firm grip on the mouse, and it’s easy enough to delete the junk and organize the rest. This was good food for thought.

  8. Great Post!What a great idea! Keep up the awesome work.

    Love & Gratitude,
    Think Simple. Be Decisive.
    ~ Productivity, Motivation & Happiness

  9. Pingback: 7 steps to becoming an e-mail pro « Lawyer’s Right Hand

  10. I would recommend to anyone feeling overwhelmed by email overload to join OtherInbox. I use it to sign up for everything and it keeps my email for real people. I actually find myself reading blogs and things more now than when I would just get frustrated with the emails in my inbox and delete them. It also lets you fight spam and monitor who is selling your email address. OtherInbox is in beta right now. I am the community manager.

    Hope you give it a try!


  11. Pingback: 7 steps to becoming an e-mail pro

  12. The SenderOK plugin will sort your email by VIP, Important and Routine. No need to worry about being overloaded. Just reassign some of the senders designated as Important to Routine and send all Routine emails to another folder.

  13. We commuters need true email inbox management that’s eyes-free and hands-free and safe for the road. There’s a smartphone app called Talkler —billed as “email for your ears.” Talkler is a free smartphone app that’s voice-controlled, and reads your emails aloud to you. There’s more at

  14. Never drown in #email again with Sanebox, it filters intelligently, it’s simple, it works so streamline your #inbox now at

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