3 easy ways to reduce the amount of email you receive

email overloadAlmost everyone I know complains about the volume of email the get and the problem just keeps getting worse. Here are three things you can do to keep the flood of email in check.

First, think before you send an email. I know this sounds strange but more than likely the recipient is going to reply so you are guaranteed to get at least one email in return. Even more if you send to a distribution list or copy additional people. Ask yourself, do I really need to send this email? Is it the best form of communication for this message or am I just being lazy and using email as the communication medium because it is easier on me?

Realize that when you send email you are creating work tasks for your recipients.  I’m not saying that you can avoid all mail simply to reduce the workload, but let’s not tell ourselves we’re “just” communicating when we’re doing mail.  In reality we’re also giving other people stuff to do whether they like it or not.

Second, unsubscribe from all the distribution lists you are on that are not absolutely critical. This is a big one as many of the people I have coached in Inbox Zero have hundreds or thousands of unread emails sitting in their inbox because of this. There is some kind of mentality that allows people to feel “in the loop” or somehow important if they are part of corporate or web distribution lists. Remove yourself from all but the most critical ones immediately.

Years ago the common wisdom was to not click on “unsubscribe me” links because the spammer would know they had a “live one” and that email account was somehow more valuable. While that used to be true, now spammers are so smart and sophisticated it doesn’t matter. Another concern is phishing attacks and this is something to take seriously. The best way to deal with this is to take your pointer and hover over the link to see if it is really going to the domain the email is coming from. If in doubt, open your web browser and go directly to the site instead of clicking on the link in the email and find the managing communications or email preferences and remove yourself from their distribution list.

Third, turn off notifications.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Groupon, etc. etc. etc. Almost every app or web site requires you to give them your email account to sign up and they all default to sending you notifications or digests. Turn these notifications off. At minimum, set it to perhaps once a week – so it doesn’t interrupt your flow and take over your inbox. They all allow you to get the same message twice.  Once online and once in your email in-box.  Kill the e-mails and just check online for updates.

That’s it. Three easy things you can do to dramatically reduce the amount of email you receive. How do you reduce the amount of email you receive?

About Michael Keithley

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