In this series I explore my Top Ten Tips to slay the email beast, unpacking some of the methods I’ve used to reduce my email use by over 50% in the last four months and create stacks of time to do more interesting and productive things.
This post focuses on what I call “Content Bombs” – emails that drop into your inbox unexpected at the most inopportune moments and completely destroy your focus and attention.
They are the stealth bombers of the email world. Feats of technical online marketing ingenuity. Their power is witnessed with awe as they explode in glorious technicolour (or Pantone) in your inbox.
They know when you’re at your most vulnerable, even if you don’t. They know what you like to buy and when you like to buy it and they know what interests you.
Well, of course they do – you told them.
You asked for them to come.
All I really want to share with you in this post is that you have a choice. I worked out recently that I was dealing with loads of content bombs every day. I thought they were interesting, even useful. Often they took me down a lovely rabbit hole of information and sometimes, just sometimes, something useful would come up.
Frequently, I would procrastinate.
Over time, I realised that although these emails had some interest and relevance, they weren’t adding much value to my working day. I also realised that in 100% of cases, I could find the content on the internet just as easily as having it dumped in my inbox. I could find it when I wanted to rather than have it imposed on me and tempting me with diversionary delights.
So I took drastic measures. I ‘unsubscribed’ from every single content bomb I signed up to.
It actually took me months. It was amazing how many I had signed up to and the process I had to go through to get out of their grip…
- Some of them were conscious sign ups like industry newsletters.
- Some were more subversive sign ups, like when I’d entered my email address as a new sign in for some new service or other, and then started to receive all their other regular content.
- Some were relatively easy to unsubscribe from within a couple of clicks.
- Some stopped emailing me straight away.
- Some persisted and I had to unsubscribe multiple times before the emails stopped.
- Some were more complicated to unsubscribe from, requiring website sign-in and changing email notification preferences, or even deleting my account.
- Some were plain evil and offered no way to unsubscribe. Any organisation falling into this category, I blocked and marked as SPAM… and swore at my screen for good measure.
Eventually after two or three months it started to have a real effect and now both my personal and work emails are pretty much content bomb free! Occasionally I get a little explosion in my inbox (no giggling on the back row), but I can easily handle it. I’m still unsubscribing straight away from any new sign ups that result in unwanted content.
Now, the critics among you might be saying “but surely you’re missing out”.
Listen, think about this – with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Yammer, RSS feeds and the whole of the WWW to search whenever I want, do you really think I’m missing out on valuable content? If I want to find out about the latest course, the latest news, the latest events, innovations and ideas, the latest productivity tips, dance craze or cat videos, I am only ever a few clicks away from a multiverse of relevant content.
Only now I’m in control, and I’m getting so much less email.
So much less!