I woke up one morning and realized that every morning I was going through almost 15 emails a day that were just notification emails from websites that I signed up for. There were daily deals from websites like NewEgg and Amazon as well as daily/weekly newsletters or sales or just information from other sites. I realized that I was going through and just hitting “Mark as Read” on all of these emails. It was taking up a few minutes of every day and was really starting to annoy me.
In the spirit of simplifying my life and getting rid of unnecessary inputs into it, I started opening up those emails and clicking “unsubscribe.” It was a beautifully freeing feeling and I loved going through and knowing that I wouldn’t be bothered again by these companies. I decided that I didn’t need to be tempted to buy more stuff and I didn’t need them wasting my time every day by telling me what I should be buying from them. I also didn’t need to have a list of someone’s published articles this week because I added myself as a user on their website.
After I went through and unsubscribed from all the email lists I got that morning, I took a big deep breath and exhaled a great deep breath of happiness.
Then something awful happened.
I woke up the next morning to another 15 emails. It was a whole other set of websites that happened to schedule their emails on a different day. I realized that it would be quite a process to eliminated years of forgetting (or not caring) to uncheck the “allow us to spam you” checkbox when signing up for accounts.
Everyday for a week, I had to repeat the process. I’m still going through my email every morning and finding some of those useless subscriptions, but now it is significantly less. If I have 6 “useless” emails every morning, that is a heavy “spam” day.
After talking with my brother-in-law about this he asked if I subscribed to the GTD (Getting Things Done) system at all. I laughed and said that I tried it once and just couldn’t deal with it. I really like the idea of GTD, but I think I lack the self-discipline to actually put that into place. After chatting a bit about the email, he said that he really appreciated having an empty inbox and urged me to give it a try. We dialoged back and forth a bit more about it and then moved on in conversation.
After a couple days, I got back to thinking about our conversation and how freeing it had been to removing some of the constant emails into the inbox. So, after some deliberation with myself, I decided to give the empty inbox thing a try.
I’m really enjoying it so far. I don’t have a system in place yet, but I’m generally replying to emails once I read them and then archiving them away. I’m loosely basing my current archive method on the GTD Inbox to zero system, with a caveat that I’m still using the Inbox as a todo list. Once I figure it out completely, I’ll fill you in with another post.