Authored by Roger Raney, Youth Services Help Desk Support Specialist
I recently received this support phone call.
Me: Hello, this is Roger
Alice: (Not her real name) My email isn’t working. I think my computer is whack!
Me: Can you be a little more specific?
Alice: I can’t send or receive any email.
Me: Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?
This fixes 97.6% of all technical issues. Really!
Alice: Rebooting didn’t help
Me: Do you save a lot of email in your Inbox?
Alice: Yes, all of them.
Me: You’re going to have to lose half of those.
Alice: Which half?
Me: The half you don’t need.
Email can stop working if an email quota has been exceeded. This usually happens when emails are not deleted. Many people are afraid to delete email for fear of losing something important. This leads to email hoarding. Email hoarding can be a serious condition we as IT Professionals refer to as Hoarding Email Continuously & Knowingly or HECK. Think of the television show “Hoarders” only with email. Like other hoarders, email hoarders must go through a 12-step program to cure this compulsive behavior. OK, it’s more like a 3-step program.
If you are a member of HECK or on your way to HECK, there are some simple things you can do to break the habit.
Step One – Accept you have an email hoarding problem.
Step Two – Take action to reduce the number of emails.
Step three – Make a plan to eliminate email hoarding and stay out of HECK.
Some ways to reduce email size:
1) Clean out email older than X date. Choose a year (preferably a year more recent than 1999) and delete anything older than that date.
2) Sort email by size and delete large emails. These are usually emails with large file attachments such as vacation and family gathering pictures. Move those pictures to another location and delete these emails.
3) Pick a number and don’t keep any more than that number of emails in your inbox. This could be 300, or 200 or 25. My number is 15, but that’s just me.
Some ways to make a plan so you don’t end up in HECK:
1) Create folders for individuals and organizations you regularly receive email from. Move email from your inbox into these folders. Delete the rest or move them into a folder marked “Pending” or “Save for later.”
2) Review your email folders periodically and delete email older than a certain date, say 6 months or 12 months. This is especially important for your “Pending” folder. At some point you’re just going to have to let them go.
3) If you just aren’t able to let go of your old emails, you can set up some archiving files and rules. You will still be a card carrying member of HECK, but you won’t have to admit it anyone, except perhaps your IT Support Professional. And we are bound by Professional/Client privilege. Really!
Some helpful web resources to keep you from ending up in HECK: