Email Strategy: Do You Archive or Delete?


One of my biggest time sucks is email.

It’s a necessary evil, so finding a solid email strategy is super important.

Due to some sicknesses in the family, a family trip and work trip last month, I go über behind in my email. As I plowed through them, I was embarrassed how late some of my responses were. :-/

As I spent half my day catching-up, I thought about my impulse of clicking, “Send and Archive.” Do I really need to archive all of these? I’ve heard of other people only archiving email that deal with accounts, etc… and they delete everything else.

What’s your strategy?

Do you archive or delete?

On one hand, if deleting was a good idea, wouldn’t Gmail offer that as one of the options? I’ve got “Send and Archive” wired up, why not “Send and Delete”?

Am I an email hoarder!?!


Rules of the Archive or Delete

Here are a few things I’ve put together for my archive or delete email strategy (I’ll add any awesome rules I find from your comments, below).

  • Does it have to do with money? Yes – Archive / No – Delete
  • Does it have to do with important account details that will not change or cannot be acquired easily? Yes – Archive / No – Delete
  • Are there instructions I will need to refer to later (i.e. project details from a client)? Yes – Archive / No – Delete

What would you add to this list?


Eric Dye

I am a blogger, business owner and lover of coffee. I spend most of my time as Programs Director for Open Church, but you'll also find me as a writer and editor for ChurchMag, as well as working on Live Theme and ChurchMag Press. All while enjoying my family and sipping espresso in Italy.

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  1. says

    So funny. In just the last year or so, I have adjusted my email retention practices. I happened to look and saw my hitherto unassailable Gmail storage stifled by 20%!

    So I stopped being a “Non-Deleter.” Now, I delete most general mailers. Receipts, email and business email I keep.

    I have about 6 Gmail labels. My general rule is that if an email cannot fit into any of those categories, it probably needs to be deleted. These, along with Inbox Zero, has me way more organized.

    I do think I could use auto-tagging a bit more effectively; less work to file after replying.

  2. says

    I NEVER delete mail. Most of my mail is not in G-Mail, I had an e-mail address before the dot-com bubble. So my mail is downloaded via POP3, and then I have in the region of 200 filters to filter them into my 200 odd folders. Some mail never really gets read (Linux and other technical mailing lists that are great for searching for solutions to occasional problems, but not for constant reading), and some mail is always read as soon as I see it (OpenLP, personal mail, etc).

    Thus I also have a backup strategy at home, and my mail is backed up onto an external hard drive.

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