Play the Unsubscribe Whack-a-Mole Game: Slim Your Inbox with 3 Easy Decisions

Whether you like or not, some company out there is dropping your email address into their distribution list as you read this. Lucky you!

When I decided I was going to bring my email under control – and get some of my life back – one of my first targets was the regular emails coming to my inbox from vendors and news services. I hated the fact that I might be missing out on important tidbits, but when I realized that I was only getting something useful from 1% of those mailings while spending hours scanning them (or worse yet, letting them accumulate in my inbox), I knew it was time to let go.

Let me spoil the ending for you – I haven’t missed a thing! I have recovered hours of my life EVERY WEEK, and that’s a huge gain! In my first two weeks of rampant unsubscribing, I removed myself from over 60 lists. I’ve continued the discipline and estimate I have removed myself from more than 100 over the course of 6 months.

This is a discipline! When all you have to do is express your interest in a topic and suddenly you’re getting regular emails from a new best friend, we have to be ruthless about turning them away. The key is to knock them down as soon as they appear – just like the old whack-a-mole game. Here’s how:

DECISION 1: What do I need to achieve my goals?skipper-unsubscribe-decisiontree

Consider your career and your life. What do you want to accomplish? While we all need a bit of play and distraction in our lives, we should be focusing our working hours on things that are going to help us move ahead. That includes our e-mail.

When I decided to get out of the training space, my subscription to the Association of Talent Development was one of the first to go. That included a large number of email updates.

DECISION 2: How does this benefit me?

For every regular email you receive, determine what value you are getting from it. Is it providing a critical insight or angle you can’t get elsewhere? Are you putting the information to use?

With this criteria, the summaries from Harvard Business Review were deemed ‘keepers’.

DECISION 3: What does this cost me?

I used to subscribe to Josh Bersin’s Talent email. It had some cool infographics and a useful report summary here and there. Two problems: First, to get the real goods you often have to click a link that winds up at a payment point for a full report. And the second was the sheer volume! He pumps out a lot of stuff, and a single email might have 15 items to work through to find the gold. If I couldn’t get through a note right away, it was often saved, adding to a crusty sedimentary layer in my inbox that grew over time with email trash I would never return to.

Plus the time spent on wading through those notes stole energy away from more important tasks where I really needed the extra reserves. Sure the emails were free, put the costs in time and resources outweighed the value.

Start Now!

For the next email you receive from a dist list, scroll down, find that little unsubscribe button and click with gusto! It’s another part of your journey to personal effectiveness.

As a Certified Thoughtfully Ruthless Consultant, I can help you get there.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.

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