Several weeks ago, I had a realization: I was spending a lot of time deleting email. Every day, I seemed to get dozens of unwanted emails that I deleted unread. This wasn’t pure spam. It was announcements from groups I was no longer part of, emails from companies I’d bought something from years ago, newsletters I’d wound up on somehow, and poorly targeted press releases.
I decided to keep track of the number of such emails as I was deleting them one Friday. By the end of the day, I’d deleted 90 emails, unread. This seemed like a lot. Not because deleting took time (a few seconds per email at most). I realized that the bigger problem was that the high volume of emails meant I always had email when I checked. And that made me check more frequently than was probably wise.
So over the past few weeks I’ve undertaken what I’m calling “The Great Unsubscribe.” Any email that I usually delete unread I have decided to, instead, open and follow the unsubscribe instructions. Most have been pretty clear about how to do this. I’m on a few foreign language newsletters (which I can’t even read! Why are they emailing me??) that I haven’t figured out, but I’m working on it. A few more aggressive emailers have had an unsubscribe link that doesn’t work. The retailers make a pitch to keep you by informing you that you can get emails less often (once a week instead of every single day). In general, I haven’t gone for that, though. I’ve just been unsubscribing away.
Slowly, the deluge is being reduced. A few of the daily email sites schedule things quite a few days ahead of time, so it’s taken more than a week for the emails to stop. But when I woke up the past two mornings, rather than have 40-plus new emails, I have closer to 20.
Will the reduced volume make me more calm or productive? I have no idea. I have a post planned about how I think people are too obsessed with clutter in general. But deleting Victoria’s Secret ads basically every single day was just draining. I’m glad to have that time back — even if it’s only a few seconds.
In other news:
I have a new ebook coming out in less than a month! What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast will be out on June 12. If you blog and would like to review the ebook, please shoot me an email (lvanderkam at yahoo dot com). Thanks!