Delete Your Email Rules
Today I removed all of my Rules in Mail.app and Filters in Gmail, though only one had been active in the past year.
I challenge you to do the same: Take an active role in reducing the email you get, and then you won’t have to file it.
Why do you get so much email? Stop it. You’re doing it wrong. If you get too much junk snail mail, do you just file it away and get a storage unit if it gets too overwhelming? No.
Here are the types of email that typically get filed with rules:
If you don’t read it every day, don’t file it. Switch to digest or no delivery. Most lists let you view the archives, so why keep an unread copy around? I had 35,000+ unread emails from the public-html list in a folder this morning. Deleted.
Remove yourself from any list you’re not reading regularly. Don’t feel guilty; take back your inbox!
Deals & Retail Discounts
Retailers will email you every other day if you let them. Get off these lists. Just get off. If you really can’t, or won’t, the best trick I’ve heard came from Andy Keller who suggests putting them in a folder, marking them read, then checking them before you go shopping.
Daily deal sites are even worse. I signed up for Groupon & LivingSocial at one point, but I don’t need the clutter (or that many manicures) so I’m off. Do you regularly buy things? If not, get them out of your inbox.
If you’re a developer, you probably get exception notices from your apps (and you should, if you don’t). Do you file them away? If so, that’s really bad. First, it tells me that you don’t actually pay attention to them, meaning you don’t know when errors are happening. Second, it means you’re not responding quick enough. If you are truly responding and fixing these errors, they should be few and far between. Fix the issues as they happen and keep them coming to your inbox. That way, you’ll be quick to respond.
For teams that have lots of projects (like us), use a system that lets each person pick which project(s) they want email for. Alternately, setup an email group, like firstname.lastname@example.org, with only the relevant people.
I get lots of automated emails from different services, from Twitter, to payment processors, to analytic services. So many, and so varied. Some I look at each day (metrics) and some I don’t. I challenge you, let them come to your inbox, and for each one this week, decide “do I actually care about this?” If the answer is no, unsubscribe. Easy as that!
I get a lot more email than most people in the office, but I make sure that it is real. Do the same. Don’t file away email to read never. Delete it. You have to take an active role to unsubscribe, or ask people to remove you, but try it. I promise you’ll be happier.