Hack your commute: Purge your email subscriptions

It’s easy to become beholden to the tyranny of the email inbox, but a bit of time spent unsubscribing to emails you no longer want to receive can really help.

email inbox

If marketing directors’ email inboxes look anything like those of marketing journalists, the majority of your emails are probably spam – or at least poorly targeted messages of little relevance to you.

Some of those useless missives are ones you can do little about without taking the time to send a polite (or passive-aggressive, or even active-aggressive) personal rejection – unsolicited pitches from suppliers and consultants, or speculative job applications from unsuitable candidates, for example. Ignoring them is unfortunately the only viable option.

But other email irritations will have been self-inflicted. Specifically, you have almost certainly signed up to at least one disappointing daily newsletter off the back of a couple of articles that piqued your interest, or given up your email address in return for a white paper and a barrage of subsequent sales messages. You’ve also undoubtedly been mysteriously subscribed to more than one mailing list without your knowledge or permission.

Assuming the vast majority of senders make at least a token effort to comply with data protection laws, you should find there’s a relatively simple remedy: unsubscribe. Though it might seem obvious, how many of us can find the time in our day to sort the wheat from the chaff?

A half-hour commute, however, is plenty of time to reduce the burden on your email server, make your inbox more manageable and lessen the chance of missing important emails among the flow of detritus. And if clicking every unsubscribe link individually proves too onerous – or if the sender wants you to send them an unsubscribe request by email – there are easier alternatives.

Microsoft Outlook has its own unsubscribe function with each message’s ‘reply’ options, for example, which will block the sender’s address if it doesn’t provide an unsubscribe link. Or you can use the ‘sweep’ function to delete all old emails from a sender, if you want to keep getting them in future but haven’t kept on top of them up to now.

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