Cure Your Overflowing Inbox: Unsubscribe!

Stressed out by the digital clutter of unwanted e-mail? Try this single-click solution.
This Is 40... and Beyond | posted by Linda Roggli, PCC

I decided to tame my inbox, swallowing hard because I might delete someone's address or an important message.

— Linda Roggli, ADDiva

If my email inbox was a physical box instead of a virtual one, there would be no way to get into my office. At last count there were more than forty-nine THOUSAND unread emails waiting impatiently for my attention.

Now, in my defense, I do download all my email to eight different computers and I still use the old-fashioned POP email instead of IMAP, which means that when I delete an email from one computer, it stays on the rest of my computers. Don't try to convince me to go IMAP, which deletes the message from the email server and all my computers at once. Tried that, had a disaster, not going there again….sigh.

So I decided to tame my inbox, swallowing hard because I might delete someone's address or important message (from 2005? Get real, Linda!). I've been a Deletion Fool this week, slashing and burning not only the email from Fannie Mae candy (which I ordered once in 2001) but from old acquaintances (that's more difficult).

Then my husband came home and casually mentioned that he had unsubscribed from a bunch of unwanted email sites and his inbox load dropped by at least fifty percent. Wow! That's a huge amount of time to gain by not deleting email as they arrive.

So I decided to try it (again -- this is not a new notion for me, just a new reminder, an Aha! moment). I've unsubscribed from Ford Motor company (I don't own a Ford vehicle), from Panasonic (I emailed them once about a defective phone) and from The New Orleans Agenda newsletter (I do visit The Big Easy occasionally, but not enough to warrant weekly news).

You know what I found out? That the promotion piece of those emails was big and bold and colorful. And the "unsubscribe" button was virtually invisible. They really don't want you to leave. You might take a notion to buy something one of these days.

They're right. I might need a lamp from Lamps Plus someday. But I'm pretty sure I can Google them again and land right back on their site. Of course, if I buy something the email barrage will begin anew, but now I am savvy to their "leave me alone" button.

Waiting to see if it works for me, but I feel so righteous unsubscribing from the lists I will never use again. Of course, when people unsubscribe from my email list, it bruises my ego. But I know they are taking good care of themselves. And they'll find me again if they need me.

What's the state of YOUR inbox these days? Are you hoarding emails from even accounts that are no longer active? Are you practicing good email hygiene? (I hate that word.) Talk to me: What's your best strategy for avoiding email overload?

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