How-To Geek

Email Bankruptcy

Email bankruptcy is a term used to describe a scorched earth approach to getting an overwhelming backlog of emails under control. The owner of the inbox deletes all unread emails (declaring “bankruptcy” on the account) and starts fresh with the new incoming emails. The term is typically attributed to author and Wired writer Lawrence Lessig. The process may or may not involve sending a blanket BCC’d email to the owners of the unreplied to emails explaining that email bankruptcy has been declared.

Declaring email bankruptcy is often one of the first steps in a user’s attempt to get to Inbox Zero (the state of having a highly managed email inbox with zero unread, undelegated, or undealt with emails).

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