A month ago, I was drowning in emails. My phone dinged with alerts. I had heart palpitations every time I tried to confront my out of control inbox. It was common for me to wake up to fifty (or more!) new emails every morning. After working all day, I’d come home to dozens of new emails. I couldn’t keep up and had a difficult time sorting the important, time-sensitive stuff from the fluff.
Today, things have changed. My inbox is manageable. New emails trickle in at a much slower pace. The stress associated with checking my email is gone.
How did I do it? By making a few, easy changes.
- I unsubscribed. I don’t do a lot of online ordering, but somehow I ended up on a ton of mailing lists. Most of the online stores who emailed me with special deals and sales offer the same ‘deal’ to everyone. There was no benefit to staying on their list, and if I want to shop with them again, chances are, I’ll still be able to cash in on a special promotion or deal. Unsubscribing from these various online stores was quick and easy, AND it had an immediate (positive!!!) affect on the number of emails in my inbox each day.
- I unfollowed. If you’re like me, you follow a lot of blogs. I signed up to receive immediate emails from several of the blogs I follow. Before anyone gets upset, this isn’t one of those “if you’re still on my friends list, consider yourself lucky because you made the cut” sort of declarations. I still follow the same blogs. I still like, comment, and reblog. I just changed the way I follow. WordPress allows you to receive a daily or weekly digest. You can also access your favorite blogs on the Reader at the top left corner of the screen. I still visit my beloved blogs, but usually on the weekends when I have time to do so. Now, instead of receiving a constant stream of notifications, I am enjoying a much cleaner inbox. And I’m still enjoying my favorite blogs.
- I created folders and labels. Sometimes you don’t want to delete an email, but you’re not quite sure what to do with it. Yahoo allows you to create folders. Gmail allows you to create labels or to archive emails to save for later. Once I read an email, I either delete, sort, or save in my inbox. The only emails that stay in my inbox are those that still need to be addressed in some way – they require a response or some sort of action on my part. Everything else gets shifted out of my inbox.
- I got serious about spam. Most of the spam I receive goes into my spam folder automatically, but not all. In the past, I simply deleted spammy emails. It was quicker that reporting it and moving the message to the spam folder manually. But once I made the decision to tackle my inbox, I knew I had to be aggressive in eliminating these unwanted emails. I reported every single piece of spam and that has made a huge difference! I rarely see spam in my regular inbox anymore.
- I changed my notifications. I used to receive an email every single time someone followed me on Twitter or liked my post on WordPress. Every. Single. Time. Facebook sends you emails too, depending on your settings. If you’re getting tons of emails from WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest, there are ways to make it stop. Each social media site allows you to customize the way and how often you receive notifications. You’ll have to go to each site and puzzle out how to make these changes, but it’s worth it. A little time spent now will save you tons of time (and clutter) later.
- I changed the settings on my phone. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I asked my teenage daughter to do it for me. My phone no longer dings at me when I receive a new email. This hasn’t really decluttered my inbox, but it has reduced my stress. My phone is quiet and the only notifications I receive are teeny tiny numbers next to the mailbox icon. This is much better than being awakened in the middle of the night by pings and dings!
- I said farewell to Facebook. Well, not entirely. I got rid of the Facebook App, so I receive ZERO notifications on my phone. I can still access Facebook through the internet browser on my phone, which might not be as user friendly as a mobile app, but that’s okay. The real bonus to saying goodbye to the Facebook app is I don’t have to use Messenger. I can view messages if I want to, but without popups and notifications. Again, this hasn’t affected my email account, but it’s helped immensely in terms of eliminating stress.
Some of you might be wondering why it took me so long to figure out how to do all this. I’ll admit, I’m a little behind the times when it comes to technology. I also tend to be lazy. Deleting an email is much quicker than going through the unsubscribe process or flagging spam, but in the long run, it’s a huge time saver.