The Art of Unsubcribing

December 14, 2011 · 13 comments

Does anyone else wake up in the morning to a flood of emails?

They’re not spam exactly; Gmail isolates those for me. But many of my early-morning emails are unwanted, “updates” from groups or social media networks or retailers.

For a while, I simply deleted them. I wanted them out of my inbox, so I could easily see correspondence that needed responses. Delete, delete, delete.

But when you delete those emails, a funny thing happens: they return the next day. If not the next day, the next week. If not the next week, the next month. If you simply delete annoying emails, they’ll find their way back to your inbox sometime down the road.

In other words, deleting is a short-term solution.

So what’s a long-term solution? Unsubscribing. (Most group emails include that option as a tiny link at the bottom.) Or changing your email settings for that particular group or network. Or, if you want to continue receiving those emails but without letting them clog your inbox, start a new folder — I call mine “not important” — and create a filter (by keyword or sender) that files those emails directly to that folder. (If you use Gmail — though I believe other email clients offer filtering options, too.)

Taking a few minutes each morning to unsubscribe or change your settings or create filters will save you hours of deleting in the long run.

This is just one of many tools and techniques that could help you Take Back Your Inbox. That sounds like it should be a hashtag, or even an event. #TakeBackMyInbox.

How are you taking back your inbox?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy Jensen December 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

Perfect timing for this reminder. I wrote this week about how I like to follow blogs – primarily by email. Yesterday I created a few filters and will monitor how that works too. I even created a filter for a blog that I cannot unsubscribe too. I’m re-reading your tips on filters. I did eliminate my capcha after thoughts added to my Monday post.

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures December 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

I’m glad that I’m not the only person that feels this way! I try my best to unsubscribe, but sometimes I just don’t have the time. I’m going to make time now though!

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Srinivas December 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

Nice. I wrote a post about how to stop flushing time down the toilet today. I’ve been unsubscribing from many things. One thing i would say is turn off ALL notification emails. If you’re on Twitter a few times a day, no need to receive emails letting you know that you’ve been mentioned. Same goes for FB and Google+. A few days ago I did something a bit crazy. I unsubscribed from every blog I read. I did this for a few reasons. I wanted to connect with new people and find new blogs I wasn’t reading. Of course I slowly started adding back the ones I missed. But it was an important cleanse since there were many blogs I was never reading in that list .

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Elise Daly Parker December 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

This is a good one for ending this year and starting out the new one with less e-mail to sift through each day. What about blog following? I don’t subscribe to any I don’t care about or feel are helpful, but reading through them each day can take more time than I have! Any suggestions?

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Alexis Grant December 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Hey Elise — Do you use Google Reader? It’s a simple RSS feed that aggregates any new posts on blogs you’re following. I like it because it keeps blog updates from clogging my inbox, and I can check it out only when I have time. Of course, that’s the problem; sometimes I won’t make it a priority for days or weeks. But it’s definitely worth it if you read a lot of blogs.

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Elise Daly Parker December 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Sounds great…Thanks so much for taking the time to reply!!

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Linda Hoye December 14, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Yes! I’ve finally got all of the blogs I follow in Google Reader. It’s so convenient to have all my favorite blogs in one place, and out of my email!

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Abbey December 19, 2011 at 1:39 am

Soooo I found this post in an effort to try and figure out in the new merged Google Reader how to unsubscribe to blogs I don’t read anymore (much like Srinivas above). However, I can’t find the equivalent of the “Manage subscriptions” that the old version had… Any tips?

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Alexis Grant December 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

Hey — If you click on the blog, then go to “feed settings” (at the top), there’s an option to unsubscribe 🙂

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Misti December 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Excellent idea about the folder. I get coupons and such that I do want to utilize if needed but really hate waking up to 10+ emails of ‘junk’.

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Julie Farrar December 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I found you from Stacy’s RT. Of course, the great irony is that I just added your blog to the extensive list in my RSS feed, which also needs some organizing. I’m going to try some of your suggestions here and in your other post on organizing e-mail. Maybe for my New Year’s resolution I’ll turn off all notifications and create a folder for all writing-related e-mails. It’s a start.

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Earl B Russell December 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Alexis, I’m glad I took the time to read this blog post! You have a good way of sensing what your readers need. Keep up the good work!

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Efrutik February 15, 2012 at 6:38 am

Amen for unsubscribe option. Although there is one grou that seems to be impossible to rid of 🙁

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