How to Get Less E-Mail

by Michael on February 16, 2010 · 0 comments

One of the things that I constantly struggle with is e-mail overload. I get way more than I can handle, and I’m not great about processing it. That means that it builds up in my inbox to the point of overwhelming me.

Today I want to share with you one specific tip for reducing your e-mail overload. I’m writing this from the perspective of a Gmail user, but the general principle will work no matter your e-mail service. Also note that I receive a lot of mass mailings, and that’s what I’m targeting here.

Reducing your e-mail overload

After logging in, run a search for “unsubscribe.” You may want to fine tune this to something like:

unsubscribe in:inbox


unsubscribe -is:sent

to limit it to just those messages in your inbox, or to all messages in your account that you did not send (i.e., incoming mail only).

However you choose to tailor your search, you’ll likely end up with a bunch of messages, most of which from mailing lists, newsletters, etc. The reason that this is that mass mailings almost always have an unsubscribe link or e-mail address at the very end. Now your job is to scroll through the list and unsubscribe from as many of these as possible.

Note that it’s generally not a good idea to respond to messages that are truly spam, so I’ll leave it to you to distinguish the good from the bad. True spam should be flagged as such and deleted. For legitimate mailing lists, however, it’s better to unsubscribe as marking them as spam will: (1) potentially get the sender blacklisted, and (2) make it harder to scan your spam folder for false positives.

What we’re looking here are legitimate mailing lists and/or newsletters that may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but are now clogging your inbox. We’re also looking for commercial mailings that you may have unwittingly signed up for when making a purchase, registering for a service, etc. Once you’ve unsubscribed, delete (or archive) the offending message and move on.

That’s it. Very simple and quite effective.

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