Email bankruptcy!

April 14, 2009 | 18 comments

Well, it’s official. I was sitting here looking at my inbox and realized that it’s time to finally pull the trigger on something I’ve been contemplating doing for a while:

It’s time to declare email bankruptcy. If you have sent me an email please know that I will read it, but I will probably not be able to respond.

Even though I spend a little time doing email daily, I never have time to get through it all, and a backlog has been building for a while. I’m now at the point where I have almost 500 “need to reply” emails in my inbox, none of it spam. It didn’t take much math to realize that, considering the fact that new emails keep flooding in daily, there’s no way I am ever going to be able to reply to all of them.

I’ve always made an effort to reply to all emails, especially those that come from this blog. I absolutely love hearing from readers — seriously, you guys send me the most interesting, touching, thought-provoking stuff! — and wish that I could spend hours in detailed correspondence with every single person who’s ever emailed me. But unfortunately God has only given us 24 hours in a day, and unless he finally answers my repeated prayers to institute a 50-hour day so that I can actually get some things done around here, there’s just no way I can keep up with all the email I receive.

Whew! It’s brought me immense relief to finally admit that I can’t keep up with it all — email has been a surprisingly big source of stress in my life for quite a while now. Thank you for understanding!

Also, if anyone else shares my pain or is otherwise interested in this topic, here are some links I came across while Googling around about this subject:

* It’s all lies! LIES! OK, I’m just bitter that it didn’t work for me, though the deficiency is undoubtedly with me and not these methods.


  1. Abigail

    Hey, humility is good for the soul. Congrats on being honest and taking an unwanted step. None of these other “always respond promptly to email” gurus have 4 BABIES. Mama Mary will be proud.

  2. Susan Thompson

    The need to do this is surely a sign of success and indicates a growing audience. Congratulations!

  3. sarah

    Ha, I wish I had your problem! 😉

  4. Roxane B. Salonen

    I agree with Susan, Jennifer, it is a mixed blessing to be sure. In that case…I was going to email you this suggestion, but will post it here instead. If you ever have time (ha), I’m wondering if you’d consider pulling all the book titles people have mentioned in the introductions they send and adding a separate blog entry with all those suggestions. I know…more work. But I think it would be a great addition…if ever you can manage it. Take my suggestion for what it’s worth, and congrats on being so popular you have to hold a moratorium on emails. 🙂

  5. Flexo

    Bankruptcy is unacceptable in these modern times.

    Clearly, you must be given a government bailout – a billion dollars or two so that you may have the resources to respond to e-mails.

    Moreover, because e-mail saves carbon-absorbing trees from being cut down, especially from those old-growth forests that paper companies like to destroy, such bailout funds will reduce your carbon footprint and provide green jobs that will save the world!

  6. Sebastian

    Thanks for this reminder. I’m not down to zero yet, but I just added about 1000 emails to my deleted folder and got the inbox down to under 300 for the first time since the first month we had this account.

  7. Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft

    I’m sorry that you won’t be reading my email with my password and directions to my multi million dollar trust fund bequeathed to you, but the Lord provides and you’ll be fine.


  8. Kaycee

    Jennifer, have you considered hosting a forum site? I’m not sure how it would work or if it costs anything, but check out and This way you could direct all questions to the forums where your readers could help answer them. It might spark some interesting conversations.

  9. Catharina de Bononia

    Wait! Can you just tell me quickly how you rinse quinoa? Do you have a specialty rinsing sieve? The grains! They’re so small! How do I deal with them?

    Thank you!

  10. Anonymous

    I always wondered with all the irons in your fire why you accepted email and attempted to respond to each. I am so glad you have divested yourself of that burden.

  11. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Roxane – this is a great idea. I’ll definitely do this. It would make for an easy post as well. 🙂

    Kaycee – that is a great idea, although I’ve tried hosting forums before (on other websites I’ve run in the past) and found it to be surprisingly stressful and time-consuming to manage it. I am considering it for the future, but right now I think it’d end up being too much work.

    Catharina – sure! I just put the quinoa in a bowl covered in water for 10 – 20 min., slosh it around with my hand, then use my hand to block the grains while I drain it. I didn’t have any strainers that work. Some of the grains get in the sink, and some of the water is still left in there, but it’s good enough. Still tastes great to me!

    Anon – yeah, a lot of people have told me that. The reason I wanted to have the policy of responding to all emails is that I sometimes get emails of a deeply personal nature, and I wanted those folks to know that I’m not ignoring them if my reply should end up in their spam filter (as happens all too frequently). E.g. I recently found out that an atheist reader reached out to me and asked for help in 2006 and thought I intentionally blew him off because I never replied, but the truth is that I never saw his email; it must have gone to my spam filter or something. Anyway it’s all moot now since I simply don’t have time to respond to all emails, so I can’t have that policy anymore.

    Thanks for all the comments!

  12. Gina

    Understood, believe me!

  13. Creative Clayer

    Maybe one day, when your kids are all grown, and you’re retired and bored, you can flip open the old email account and read them for pleasure. You might even surprise a few people with a response (those who never change their email accounts). Sounds like a worthy retirement project to me!

  14. Scarlett

    Just this week I happened to look at your old e-mail policy, and I was completely amazed that you were able to actually respond to every e-mail, given how busy your life must be at home and how many people read this blog. I don’t blame you at all for changing your rules! I can’t believe it took you so long!

  15. Heather of the EO

    As I sit here trying to work my way through my inbox, I find this post quite timely and humorous.

    Sometimes I think modern technology will be the death of me.

    You have to give yourself permission to let something go at some point. We can only carry around so many good things before one or the other suffers due to another good thing. If that makes any sense.

    You are wise to cut back in this way, since you most likely don’t want to give away one or more of your children, the email has to go 🙂

  16. LauraD

    Email bankruptcy — that is an interesting way of putting it I haven’t previously heard. Enjoy life with the little ones, and know that even if we’re not emailing you, we’re praying for you! You touch many with your witness and writing! Thanks! Happy Easter!

  17. Jairo Mejjia

    Atheists and Gnostics are right in most of their thinking

    It has been common among religious believers to look with misgiving to atheists and Gnostics, and to think that they are mistaken; however, in many instances the opposite is the truth; some religious beliefs are not just irrelevant, but baseless. The “God” of main line traditions simply does not exist. I accepted the challenge of finding the One who may be recognized even by Gnostics and atheists: the Existence itself, “All-That-Is.” If something is there, that is God. Look at the book “Christianity Reformed From ist Roots – A life centered in God” ( I am confident that some of your friends will be relieved of the illusion, as I did myself.

    Jairo Mejia, M. Psych., Santa Clara University
    Retired Episcopal Priest
    Carmel Valley, California

  18. GADEL

    I’m going email bankruptcy too! It sounds great. More time to do other things. Wow!

    Thanks Jennifer.

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