My junk mail war is a new endeavor, but I’m already pretty good about managing my personal email. I shop online quite a bit and I like requesting freebies, so a few months ago I found myself constantly deleting junky new emails from my smartphone to clear the “new mail” notification. I picked a day and began tackling my incoming junk mail from that point on, and now I only get mail that I want (along with occasional stragglers!).
Here’s what I do to manage my email:
1. Maintain two personal email accounts: a correspondence account and a business account. Use the correspondence account for communicating with friends, family, colleagues, etc. Use the business account for online shopping, marketing lists, hobby newsletters, etc.
2. Unsubscribe from each unwanted email blast as you receive it (then delete the email). Look for the “unsubscribe” link buried in the fine print of the email. Commit to doing this for one or two weeks and your email influx will drop off dramatically. After the flood stops, you can tackle the odd straggler or new material as it arrives.
3. Be judicious when signing up for new email lists when shopping online or requesting freebies. I always opt out of communications beyond those related to my accounts or orders unless I am already committed to or really curious about the company.
4. Turn off email notifications on your smartphone, and reduce the frequency of mail server check-ins. Nowadays, most personal emails are by nature non-urgent. If people need to get in touch with you quickly, they will call or text you. I also set my smartphone to check for new emails only once an hour (which also saves battery power, I think).
5. Don’t sweat the old stuff. Mark all your old emails as “unread” and move on with your life, or search by company name and delete most of the old junk in batches. If you really want a fresh start, you could always open a new email account.
A little time invested now will result in big benefits down the road. You’ll be less tempted to shop and less distracted by your phone, and you’ll spend less time wrangling emails!