Reorganising Everything Part 2: Email
This is the second part of a seven part series where I talk about reorganising my digital and physical life and activities in order to try and feel more sane and at peace.
Part 1 - Getting Things Done
Part 2 - Email
Part 3 - Calendars: Paper vs Digital
Part 4 - Devices and Notifications: Focus Modes
Part 5 - Stripping Back: The Return of RSS
Part 6 - Non-Actionable Items
Part 7 - The Review
My relationship with email is a mess. Whether that's at work, for the blog, or my personal inbox. All eventually become unorganised, bloated, junk filled dumpsters.
Work make it a little easier. Outlook will automatically filter out the Workplace and 'not relevant to me' junk into the 'other' section. On my personal devices, however, I have a preference for Apple's Mail app, which has a cleaner UI and functionality but does have just the one inbox view.
But of course, the mess isn't the problem, it's a symptom of it The real problem is the amount of email I get on a daily basis, mainly on my personal account.
Amongst the blogs and newsletters I voluntarily follow, I get emails from Quora suggesting threads I might week, a couple of stationary stores letting me know they have more notebooks for me to look at, newsletters I used to follow but no longer find interesting, and of course, everything from Amazon1
Then there's the fact that I give it next to no time. Reddit and YouTube take up too much of my low effort time, and so it builds and builds, none of it being read, until I just delete it all in a 'cleaning' frenzy. But of course, deleting is a temporary fix, and then we're back to.a use inbox and ignoring the email I want to read because my inbox becomes too depressing to look at.
There is a fix though: Unsubscribe.
First step is reviewing the problem as it stands today and working through each sender for next actions.
I have nearly a thousand emails in my inbox. Sorting by sender, and I get:
-Abbas from Week Plan - a productivity app I think I signed up for ages ago but never used. Occasionally get emails from them with some tips but mostly upselling a product I don't use. No unsubscribe button, so just move to junk instead
-Alex Garcia - sends SEO and marketing tips. Kind of interesting, but if I'm honest, not something I read or use a lot. Unsubscribe.
-Amazon - woo boy. Just Released on Prime Video, please listen to Amazon Music, here's some stuff you might like, and obviously receipts. Unsubscribed from the marketing emails, but will see how well that works in the coming weeks. Deleted all emails including receipts, as that's what your order history is for.
-Andrea Neagoie - software developer blogger. Again, interesting stuff, but unused and just takes up space. Unsubscribe.
-Various bills - nothing to unsubscribe from here, just delete as appropriate.
-Arnold Schwarzenegger's mailing list - actually love this, want to read it more often. Quality fitness and health tips, mixed with positivity. Keep.
-BBC Maestro - Service I was interested in, until I saw the price. By that point they had my email though, so now I get a bunch of marketing. Unsubscribe.
-Bill Gates - if I'm being honest, while I find his stuff occasionally interesting, it's never interesting enough to grab my attention and make me want to read it consistently. Takes up space, doesn't get read. Unsubscribe.
-Blinkist - a service I never use, but get daily emails from. Unsubscribe, will be wiping the app from everything later.
-Tons of fantasy football emails. Need the notifications for the season to come, so won't unsubscribe, but time to mass delete.
-Brian Dean - SEO specialist, but again, don't read, don't use, and already have a treasure trove of emails with links and guide to refer back to later. Unsubscribe.
-Bulk - protein supplement store. Easy unsubscribe.
-Bullet Journal - got the guide, can get the inspirations elsewhere, don't need it clogging up my inbox. Unsubscribe.
-Coach Vigue - my favourite YouTube yoga instructor but I'm already subscribed to his channel and don't need the extra emails. Unsubscribe.
-Cote Brasserie - love the restaurant, but don't need the emails. Unsubscribe.
-Daily Stoic - daily emails, but I actually enjoy them and want to read more. Keep and file.
-Dr Benjamin Hardy - life advice blogger, don't read anymore, especially when they're just links to a YouTube video. Unsubscribe.
-Dropbox telling me my storage is overflowing - keep. Need a bit of humour to the day.
-Examine - excellent articles on supplements. Keep.
-Field Notes - gotta keep abreast of their editions. Keep.
-Flavio - same as Andrei above. Unsubscribe.
-Freeletics - useful app, for a time. Not useful anymore. Unsubscribe.
-CGP Grey - love his content, and rarely get an email, so definitely keep.
-Jeff Goins - loved his blogging guide, don't need the new stuff. Unsubscribe.
-John and Hank Green - again, love their content. Keep.
-L&C Mortgages - don't need anymore. Unsubscribe.
-LinkedIn - ugh. Unsubscribe.
-Morning Brew - informative tech news blog, but no longer holds my interest. Unsubscribe.
-MyFitnessPal - nothing helpful or interesting here. Unsubscribe.
-New Statesmen posts - informative and useful. Keep.
-Pitchfork - I know it get's a lot of flak, but I enjoy it, and it's exposed me to interesting new music I wouldn't have found normally. Keep.
-Pocket - don't use, don't read. Unsubscribe.
-Quora - don't need emails to tell me to waste my time on Quora. I've got my own mind to do that for me. Unsubscribe.
-Skillshare - don't use, don't read. Unsubscribe.
-Stronger by Science - great content, want to read more. Keep.
-The Athletic - don't read, and not interested in paying for the content. Unsubscribe.
-The Microdose - was interested, but not anymore. Unsubscribe.
-The New Yorker - not interested, unsubscribe.
-The Oatmeal - love it. Keep.
-Tim Ferriss - still love his stuff. Keep.
-ToDoist - don't use the app anymore, but the blog can be interesting. Keep for now.
-Various stores - IKEA, Hotel Chocolat, Jenny's Brownies, etc etc. Unsubscribe and delete.
-YouGov - still do their surveys. Keep.
And breathe. Hard part over.
Ok, so now I've unsubscribed from almost everything I get on a regular basis, that should prevent further overload. Next is filing.
I already have folders set up for reference (and subfolders per topic/sender), action, and to read. Just need to create a few more to cover mailing lists I've recently subbed to, and we're set there.
The final problem is moving forwards. Typically, I tend to put things in the action and to read folders, then ignore them. A couple of widgets on my Home Screen will add forced reminders of them, as well as easy access to my folder, and any emails that require an action should also end up in Nirvana via their forwarding functionality.
Then it's just keeping on top of my subscriptions going forward. Being extra careful not to sign up to anything at checkout, using VIP tags on subscriptions I really don't want to miss, and a more in depth review of the mailbox on a weekly basis to refresh and reprocess. But that'll be detailed later.
Right now though, I need more coffee. Next up: calendars.
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Including the monthly 'You have an unused Prime benefit: Amazon music'. Never happening, Amazon. Apple Music till I die.↩