"I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy," he wrote. "If you've sent me an e-mail (and you aren't my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over." ...
The term "e-mail bankruptcy" may have been coined as early as 1999 by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies the relationship between people and technology.
Professor Sherry Turkle said she came up with the concept after researching e-mail and discovering that some people harbor fantasies about escaping their e-mail burden.
—Mike Musgrove, "E-Mail Reply to All: 'Leave Me Alone'," The Washington Post, May 25, 2007
No, the bigger problem is all of the legitimate e-mail messages we receive: notes from the Get Ahead bosses, questions from readers, press releases, story ideas, PR pitches, company memos and the occasional love letter from our adoring fans.
It's hardly surprising, then, that we're attracted to the concept of e-mail bankruptcy. To declare e-mail bankruptcy, you delete every single message in your inbox and start from scratch.
—Dave Simanoff, "Get Ahead Stay Ahead," Tampa Tribune, May 7, 2007
Dr. Turkle said that in her research on people's relationship with computation, she hears more and more about a fantasy she calls "e-mail bankruptcy," a fantasy that she sometimes shares.
"In my case," she said, "when I feel that 'doing my e-mail' is taking me away from the people and the work that I care about, I might declare bankruptcy."
—Constance Rosenblum, "In Lost E-Mail, a Dividend," The New York Times, February 14, 2002
1) Collect the email addresses of everyone you haven't replied to. Paste them into the BCC field of a new message you'll send to yourself.
2) Write a polite note explaining your predicament. Apologize profusely - Lessig managed five mea culpas in as many paragraphs - and promise to keep up with your email in the future. Try to sound credible.
3) Ask for a resend of anything particularly pressing, and offer to give such messages special attention.
—"Declare Email Bankruptcy," Wired, August 1, 2006