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Delete This: The Battle for an Uncluttered Inbox

Apple's Mailbox
Source: mailboxapp.com
Apple's Mailbox

Welcome to my world:

"2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium Reveals New Advances for GI Cancers"

"Funding Inspires Florida Teens to Pursue STEM Manufacturing Education"

"South Africa: MPC keeps interest rate on hold in midst of higher inflation and lower growth"

Those are the subject lines from three of the 50 billion emails I get every day. This is what happens when postage is free. Mail floods in.

Emails cost a sender nothing, but the cost to me is high—wasted time, carpel tunnel from constantly clicking "delete," neck pain from always shaking my head ("Why would I EVER care that 'Ovum finds Big Data vendor market perception remains positive in 2012'?")

Once a week I clean the out inbox, a task that requires me to set aside an hour. AN HOUR.

(Read More: Email FAIL: What You're Doing Wrong in Your Inbox.)

Scott Kurnit has had it. Kurnit founded About.com and now is CEO of Keep Holdings, which has developed the Swizzle, a free email organizer which allows you to unsubscribe from unwanted "commercial emails." Kurnit claims the number of these mostly unwanted emails jumped 18 percent last year.

Other solutions are hitting the market. A new email app called Mailbox will work with Apple iPhones and Gmail. The company behind the app said it plans to eventually add other devices and email providers.

"Evidence suggests that inboxes became simply overloaded by frequent communications," said MaryAnn Bekkedahl in a statement from Swizzle. Bekkedahl is a member of National Association of Professional Organizers, a group I would not fit in well with, by the way.

I once accidentally deleted my entire inbox. There were a few minutes of panic, and then I dialed IT support to recover what was lost. However, as the phone began to ring, I paused, then hung up. Let 'em go. Let 'em all goooooo.... It was very freeing. I recommend it.

In fact, Thursday is "clean out your inbox day." Why have an official day in January? Bekkedahl figures it's a good time for resolutions, plus "all that online shopping for the holidays leads to a bit of 'inbox hangover'." She said, "We encourage everyone to take three minutes to clean up their inbox."

THREE MINUTES? That won't even get me through today's flood.

(Read More: Tidy Up! It's National Clean Off Your Desk Day.)

The only real solution may be no email at all. Maybe direct messaging and texting can migrate from personal communications to corporate. Texting usually costs money, which could discourage profligate emailers from overwhelming my smartphone. I wonder what the "Big Data vendor market perception" is of THAT.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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