One of the things I have been looking at recently is the volume of email I receive how to cut it down.  No this is not a email is evil we must stop using it post, rather a focus on using it more efficiently.

There are two problems I am trying to solve:

1. Keep my inbox manageable and clutter free

2. Reduce the number of notification I receive on my phone (turning email notifications off altogether is just not an option)

To accomplish this I am taking a few specific steps

1. Unsubscribe: When email comes in that I don’t want instead of just deleting it I am taking a second look at it.   While it is easy to simply delete the email and move on, many emails have valid options to remove yourself from the list.  Many of these emails are probably even things I asked for, years ago.  Instead of taking the one second delete option I am taking the 5 second is there a way to unsubscribe that looks legitimate.  If there is I am taking the time to remove myself from the list.   I have been doing this since the beginning  of the year and 10 days in I am definitely seeing an impact on the volume of mail I receive

2. Cancel: I have already documented my addition to trying new services, if it is Beta I am in, and while I definitely tried to cut down on that in 2012 I still signed up for my share of new services which just love to remind you via email to use them, or what new features they added.  Instead of deleting these now I am looking at them more carefully if it is a service I use I am editing my preferences to opt out of notifications.  If it is a service I don’t use I am cancelling my account.

3. Rules: There are some emails I don’t want to eliminate altogether, but don’t want the constant notifications and traffic in my inbox.  A good example is a community yahoo group.  I want to know what is going on in the community, but it is a high volume list, and I don’t need it in real time.   A simple mail rule puts it straight in to a folder to be looked at when I feel like it.

4. Create your own: I am playing with Pushover as service that lets you create your own notifications.  One example of this is my daily backups of my blog.  It runs every day and was sending me an email, now instead of email a simple PHP script sends a pushover notification.  You are probably asking ‘What is the difference?’ well for me there are 2 differences.  First pushover allows you to send your alerts to multiple devices or point specific alerts to specific devices so while an email generates an alert on my phone and my iPad, I can specifically push my backup alerts to my phone, and not the ipad.  Second when I feel like I can simply delete all on my pushover notifications, they are not mixed in with emails I might want or need.  Time permitting I would like to do more with Pushover and IFTTT to manage notifications and cut down on how many I receive daily.

Have any tips on managing email? feel free to leave a comment.

3 Responses to Unsubscribe
  1. Jon
    January 11, 2013 | 9:18 am


    Great post! Thank you!

    The single biggest thing I’ve done is cut down on the amount of email I send. I know it sounds odd, but I’ve probably reduced my email by about 50% just by being ruthless about what I actually send out. One way to do that is by moving conversations out of email – if a conversation is better handled on the phone, in person, or in a meeting, I’ll end the email thread quickly and move it to the more appropriate channel.

    I am very selective about Reply to all as well.


  2. David Goldstein
    January 11, 2013 | 9:33 am

    Pushover is a nice idea but the email is free and the app is $3.99. I’d rather just stick with the email (but that’s just me).

  3. Bill Dorge
    January 11, 2013 | 9:39 am

    I did the unsubscribe thing a while back, I’ve been following IBM, Microsoft, VMWare, via Facebook anymore. I just created a list and add those feeds in there where I can look at it when I’m ready.

    I’m finding this a fairly productive way of doing this, and my inbox is very manageable these days. I also think I’m more up on things, since I don’t just delete if the email description didn’t catch my attention.

    I guess I’ve gone social in my own weird way.