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.


>>Driving Excellence in Personal Effectiveness