#RealWorkTalk: Detoxing my Inbox

Jun 19, 2019

Every morning, I open my three e-mail accounts and marvel at the number of unnecessary e-mails.  Retailers, old subscriptions, notifications from social media, promotions — it’s an endless pile of unwanted digital correspondence and it’s weighing me down.

If you’re anything like me, you usually flag unwanted e-mail as spam or junk.  But the senders change e-mail addresses so frequently that two days afar flagging your eye doctor from 11 years ago is sending you her Keto recipe newsletter again.  It’s maddening.

It’s also potentially problematic.  Ever lose an important e-mail in a pile of spam?  Happened to me, and I never want it to happen again, so I knew it was time for a purge.

I tried unroll.me in the past, but the company’s data collection practices concerned me a bit.  So in an effort to keep a third-party company out of my e-mail inbox, I decided to  go the old fashioned route.

First, I saved three or four days of e-mail spam.  Hundreds of e-mails I didn’t want or need.  I felt like a digital hoarder.

Then, I turned on a binge-worthy show (I had Billions stocked up on my DVR), and got down to the business of unsubscribing.

The payoff is immense.  This morning, I opened my Gmail to find seven wanted e-mails, three morning newsletters, and only one piece of spam.  Hallelujah!

Want to detox your inbox?  I feel so good about this small move in the right direction, that I think I will sit down this weekend and follow Hiver’s tips for going full Marie Kondo on my inbox.

So how do you keep your inbox clean?  I’d love to hear some more tips.

#RealWorkTalk, Ask the Editor

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  1. KR says:

    I work politics-adjacent (Hi from DC, Belle!) and can’t ignore Politico/Hill/etc. but also do not need six emails on every tweet as they happen. So I created a “to read” folder and, via Outlook’s rules, send every email that’s to a list there and check them in batches. So the only things that hit my inbox (and phone and watch) are directly to me. Life. Saving.

    • DCP says:

      I just came here to commiserate with this! I tried your solution once and just… never checked the folder. Back to my inbox they went. Sigh.

  2. Lea says:

    I go through phases like this where I sign up for emails to get coupons while I’m in the process of buying new things. Once the said things are purchased, I unsubscribe from everything to eliminate the temptation of impulse buying.

  3. Lisa says:

    I have a second email account I use whenever I need to enter an email address somewhere I don’t trust. I never check it. Beyond that, I unsubscribe from spam/stores/etc as soon as it comes in – it’s easier for me to deal with things one at a time than once it’s out of hand.

    • KO says:

      +1 this. I’ve been using a separate email for years (coupons is in the name) that I use for sign ups at retailers, etc. It’s my go-to whenever I think the person I’m giving my email to might put me on a list. When I plan to shop, I check this account & scroll my faves to see if there are promos. The only negative is accepting that this inbox says I have like 20k unread emails. It kinda makes me feel satisfied though, because none of these emails have interrupted my daily inbox – I have been in control of whether I want/ need to see them! Get yourself a coupons account!

  4. Jules says:

    I periodically batch unsubscribe and this has inspired me to go unsubscribe from more.

  5. Anna says:

    I really like the Gmail Promotions tab. I never get around to unsubscribing, plus the worst offenders are companies I actually buy from, so I don’t necessarily want to unsubscribe, but as long as they go straight to that folder, they don’t clutter my inbox.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Curious what morning newsletters made the cut?

  7. edna mazur says:

    For shopping ads- I created a rule in my inbox to mark emails from retailers I still want as read and they go directly into a “shopping ads” folder. That way i’m not tempted just by checking my email, but if I actually have to find something I go in there and see what is on sale and if I have any coupon codes.

  8. Amy says:

    Please ladies, use ‘unsubscribe’ whenever possible. Otherwise, reports of spam or junk ding the sender’s email reputation and hurt their ability to deliver content that others have opted in to. An unsubscribe is always fair, but marking emails you opted in to or that you receive because you’ve been a customer/have a relationship with a sender is a bit unfair. All that said, if you’ve been receiving emails from random sources that you don’t know or haven’t opted in to, smash that junk button all you need!

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