Deal with email effectively

How to deal with email, effectively

I work for the best email company in the world.

Although I love emails, ‘unsubscribe’ links are there for a reason.

I often found myself opening emails even though I didn’t read the content in it straight away. Anything to get rid of that annoying (1) indicator, right?

Most of the time, I opened emails that were marketing material from various companies – I had subscribed to receive their newsletter. We love news. We love hearing about new stuff. But this stuff sometimes gets out of hand. After taking steps to declutter my wardrobe and trying to shop smarter, it was very easy to just delete emails that were advertising sales and things I didn’t need. If I don’t read an email in its entirety straight away, chances are, I won’t come back to it again. So I try and deal with an email immediately. Most importantly, I file it away in a folder if I’m done with it, or delete it if I won’t touch it again.

I see people let their emails rise to 1000, 3000, 56636 unread emails, before they start trying to tackle it. That’s the worst way to do it. In my opinion, the best way is to deal with an email as soon as you open it. You usually choose between delete, take action straight away, or postpone.

The funny thing is, people let their inboxes become that full that by the time they decide to clean through it, they realise that about 80% of it is completely irrelevant because of how much time has passed. And I am willing to bet that at least 60% of those emails are either spam or newsletters.

Most newsletters can be deleted immediately

Most newsletters can be deleted. Sales don’t last forever, new products don’t stay new. News gets old quick, and you’ll probably get another newsletter the next day. I suggest making yourself digest an email newsletter when you open it, then decide whether it’s relevant to you. I’ll provide some examples.

I subscribe to T2 for news about tea, but most of the time they advertise a new range I am not super keen on trying. If I’m interested, I’ll make a note to go in-store and check it out. If not, I can delete the email.

I subscribed to many newsletters for concert venues. Over time, they stopped having concerts for bands I liked (typically, some venues will host certain ‘types’ of bands), so the newsletters did not feel relevant to me anymore.

Sometimes I forgot that I subscribed to things, until I get emails up to a year later, advertising some product. Who are you? Don’t spend too much time wondering. If you’re not interested, just unsubscribe.

How to Unsubscribe.

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the email.
  2. Click unsubscribe (if there is no link, reply to the email and ask to be removed, because by law there should always be an option to unsubscribe from a mailing list).

Just do it.

Don’t ever feel bad for unsubscribing. Seriously.

I have yet to meet anyone who has actually felt bad about this. You have every right to not be interested, and as much right to unsubscribe.

Don’t feel obligated to stay ‘loyal’.

Other people think, ‘Wow, I have been subscribed to this newsletter for so long! I’m afraid I’ll miss out on something if I unsubscribe now, even though the past couple of newsletters have sucked…’

Just unsubscribe. You’ll feel much better about it – trust me. Marketing is a means of gaining customers and keeping customers. Companies will lose customers as they cannot please everyone. If you unsubscribe, don’t think they lost a valuable customer. They probably gained at least ten subscribers who actually liked their new content, so you shouldn’t feel bad. (This goes back to the previous point.)

A fresher inbox

It takes time to really feel a sense of inbox freshness, especially if you subscribe to a lot of mailing lists without thinking. We do that sometimes. But after you clean out your subscriptions, you tend to think twice before just submitting your email address to another list, especially if you used to be swamped with newsletters you never read.

As a general rule, I try not to subscribe to more than I care to deal with. The notion of a busy inbox makes me feel uneasy. No one likes spending time in their inbox just trying to clean out shit. To put it simply, it’s a bloody waste of time. That’s why I digest and deal with an email as soon as I open it, deleting it if I don’t need it. It’s really simple to do, and once you get used to making a quick decision with an email, you’ll see the benefits:

  • It gets you into the habit of actually being productive, preventing you from just leaving stuff in a giant backlog.
  • It helps you become more organised.
  • As this is such a simple task you may complete a few times a day (depending on how much email you receive), you can quickly begin to see where your priorities are.
  • If an email needs more attention later, you’ll be faster inclined to deal with it later because you opened it and made a prompt decision to do so. You already recognised its priority.
  • You are less likely to have a giant backlog of outdated emails to clean out.
  • Cleaner inbox.

There is a service called Unroll.me that helps you unsubscribe to anything you’ve subscribed to. It is a pretty handy tool that supports a handful of email service providers.

What are your thoughts? Do you have other tactics to deal with a large flow of email?

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Comments on this post

Outlook.com has a really handy feature for unsubscribing. If you scroll to the bottom of the email it has an option to unsubscribe from that mailing list (if they can do it for you) and to delete all emails in your inbox from this address. This is really handy for all those newsletter from shops that are 2 years old and the offer has long gone.

I had a massive clear out of my two email accounts at the end of last year and now I really keep on top of my emails. I like to label/categories them too so I know which ones need keeping and which ones need replying to.

I like the initiative you’re taking to address the fact that unsubscribing to e-mails is OK! Especially if you don’t bother reading the e-mails anyways. At my work, I get a ton of e-mail from useless places forwarded to me every day. Unsubscribing does lots of good!!!

I agree that it’s fine to unsubscribe, it’s not like the company will miss you or anything…XD.

The e-mails I see myself unsubscribing to the most are the ones in my junk mail. I think it’s somewhat effective but I still see the MK/UGG spam ~____~

I get that MK and UGG spam too, ugh!

I forgot to mention that a good tip is to use aliases when you subscribe to things so you know who sent you that email… for example, I use amazon@georgie.nu for my Amazon account. You can do similar filter-ish things with Gmail such as myname+whateveryouwant@gmail.com. I guess it comes in handy but is not as related to cleaning out emails, haha.

I’m not sure how people deal with unread counts in their inbox because it drives me crazy! I can’t leave emails unread; I have to deal with them as I see them. I totally agree that people shouldn’t feel bad unsubscribing or feel that they have to stay loyal. I feel that way for phone calls too. If I get a phone call I’m not interested in, I immediately ask to be taken off the list. Plus, with emails, you can often re-subscribe if it interests you again later.

I have to admit that I stay on some lists because of the coupons. Every morning, I select all of the promotional ones and just mark as read without opening them. I do this instead of deleting so I can search my email for coupons when I need them. Every few weeks, I’ll bulk delete a bunch of emails that are no longer relevant (old receipts/shipping notices, expired coupons, etc).

I definitely like having a cleaner inbox!

I am guilty of hanging onto coupons as well haha. Sometimes they don’t last long, but I keep them in case I decide I need to buy something. Though I sort of categorise it under ‘sale’ as well… so if I wasn’t thinking of buying from that company, I won’t be tempted just because I have a coupon. Haha.

I never have unread count above zero when I check my emails. I never understood why people would leave things unread until they get to 2030238834 unread emails O_O; Like you, I’d much rather just open my messages then and choose to either respond, archive, or delete them. Then again, I could also take the time to really delete the messages I don’t need, but I’m not too keen on going through my entire email to do that at the moment 😆;;

And yes, I definitely unsubscribe from things when I am no longer interested. It also annoys me when people subscribes me onto their list. Uh, no. If I want to subscribe, please let me do it!

I took the time to delete messages I don’t need from pre-2016… it was very weird to do, actually. I hated going through my entire email, but I found so much crap I didn’t need. I realised that a lot of correspondence wasn’t useful to me at all (not useful enough to keep two years on, that’s for sure).

It also annoys me when I get subscribed to a list without being asked. Rude!

YES. For so many years I had just archived newsletters instead of taking the action to unsubscribe from random things that were no longer relevant.

I have numerous email accounts, some personal, some for projects, some for business. I find that it is really important to keep everything organised and to remove anything from the inbox that is not needed. When I get really busy and don’t have as much time to organise my inboxes you can so easily miss important messages. 😶

The shame I feel reading this, aghhhh. I used to be really good when I only had Gmail at sorting things into folders, but then I started using my phone to monitor all 3 accounts and, bleh. I gave up. I need to unsubscribe from all the junk in my inbox, as you say.

Also I used your Achievement Unlocked template! Anddd before I forget – when I was on a page, the sidebar links for ‘Popular Posts of 2015’ wouldn’t work. None of them. :/

Still can’t believe you’ll be in London 😮

Haha. I actually sent you an email (to your Gmail address I believe) but not sure if you got it – I can only assume it got lost in the depths or simply went to spam!

Damn about the links, oh well. I will try to fix them, but a redesign is coming super soon. 😉

I definitely remember replying to that and my inbox says the same thing 😮 I’ll ping you another e.

Looking forward to the redesign!

Hmm bizarre. I did change servers last week and there was an issue with the DNS not reflecting so maybe it didn’t get through.

THANK YOU
I really needed to hear that today. I actually could have done with it at the weekend, when I logged into my email for the first time in months and was hit by thousands of emails. I have to admit I just did a ‘select all’ and delete.

I was always worried about hitting unsubscribe… as thought it would indicate to the sender that this was a genuine email address with an actual person and would just generate more spam!

I always open the mail just to remove those notifications. I’m definitely living in denial here, but I like pretending to be busy by constantly having to “mark as read” my emails, although most of them are pretty pointless. Or at least I don’t mind doing it. Because I only ever check my emails in my phone, and my phone always remind me to do it, I never really had an issue. It’s good habit to get rid of the useless messages though. I should do it some time.

I feel like I’m also fooling myself into thinking I have heaps to do by refreshing my email all the time, overjoyed when I receive something just because I can do something with it, or at least open it up. It really made a difference to my organisation when I started to discard emails that I knew I wouldn’t look at again.

You’ve got me wanting to tidy up my inbox now Georgie! (And I most definitely will after this!)

I have been trying to unsubscribe from clothing stores marketing because I always find myself buying stuff whenever I open an email from them. Causing me to waste time buying then returning because I realise I dont need it later on!

I personally am one of those people who read their emails once they get them, unlike my sister who keeps it building up and has the 10,000 notification on top of her email app. GAHHH, drives me crazy!

Here’s why I have a huge email issue: 1 is a personal email, 1 is a blog email, and 1 is my university email. Right now my personal email has…125 emails in it. The sad thing is Gmail does make it easy to properly categorize emails (ex: anything from Amazon goes in an “Amazon” folder, anything from Barnes & Noble into a respective B&N folder, and anything from my bank(s) goes into “money”) but I’m lazy and haven’t gone through and properly categorized anything lately.

I really hate how many promotional emails are mailed out everyday. I must get 10-15 promotional emails every few days and they’re emails I just delete right away! It drives me insane. I’ve been debating creating a junk email for mailing lists, random accounts, etc. Keep all of that in one place. Half of the email I get is because I signed up for an account with someone and am now receiving all of their promo emails (Life Is Beautiful, I’m looking at you).

I appreciate your comment about not feeling guilty when you unsubscribe. I know there are “numbers” in subscribers, but at the end of the day…my inbox doesn’t need to be any more cluttered than it already is.

I’m very very good at combatting my work email, that could be because it’s part of my daily task to keep an eye on the inbox and to to ensure to ensure we only have around 10 emails left over each day. We try for 0 unread emails but average 50 – 100 emails daily!

When it comes to my personal email I’m useless. I have 100s of unread emails in my inbox at the moment and a lot of it tends to be email subscriptions (that I rarely read) or spam mixed in with important emails than can get missed like the the one reminding me about my car service (!). I will definitely try your tips, especially hitting the unsubscribe button, how do you find the time?