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Monday, April 20, 2015

Email Woes

Email can seem like a tyrant. If you don't read it the messages pile up until it will take you hours to catch up and you might miss an important message. Even when you read it regularly it can take over. 

I decided to go one whole week without reading my email.... and without sending a message or newsletter. Anyway today I am starting to read again and I have 602 messages in my personal account and 32 in my business email account. It is not like I shop online or subscribe to lots of lists. So what is in my email?

  • Facebook
  • Meet Up
  • Pinterest
  • Professional Organization
  • Austin Business Journal
  • Children's Defense Fund
  • Environment Texas
  • Long Center for the Performing Arts
  • Advertisements - New Egg
  • A few personal messages from friends
  • Messages from my doctor
email lists in Facebook
Here is what I did with my 602 messages.
  1. First I scanned the content to see what I was receiving.
  2. Then I did an email search for the FROM line of messages that I no longer wanted to receive. Sometimes it came up with exactly what I wanted.  After found the messages that I didn't want used the checkbox at the top to choose all of the messages to trash and then clicked the trash can and they were thrown away. You can do this without marking them unread. Just delete them. It is so satisfying!
  3. Finally, I emptied the trash in my email. 
I know that everyone has different email programs that look a bit different and use different words, but all of them can do something similar. It may just take some searching to find out how it is done in your program. I use Gmail.

What I learned is that some organizations have MANY LISTS. Facebook is a good example. I learned that if I just searched for FACEBOOK I got all kinds of email in my list, but when I searched for Facebook birthday I only got back results when FACEBOOK was notifying me of someone's birthday. When I went to the message I unsubscribed from the FACEBOOK Birthday list, but I still have email from Facebook.  I guess as I go I will find the different lists and unsubscribe from them. I finally found all of their lists and unsubscribed from them. See the list above. I found it in the Settings on Facebook under Notifications.

Another interesting thing is that I get email regularly from TED talks. The FROM line says "This Week on TED". I tried searching using TED, but that returned email about a friend named Ted and other things. So, I put the whole phrase in - this week on TED - and I still got all sorts of results. Then I added quotation marks - "this week on TED" and up came a whole list of ONLY "This Week on TED" email. I was able to mark all of them and delete them easily.

I now plan to do this every 6 months to a year. I am not sure how I get added to all of these lists. Most of them are things I am interested in.  Maybe I signed a petition or put my email on a list for something else. Maybe they got bought my email from someone. For a few of them I know I have purchased something from their company. The point is that they keep increasing, but they are NOT what I define as SPAM. They are good organizations trying to communicate. It is just that I cannot take in that much communication and don't want to.

I like the option of marking messages as read. That allows me to easily see what is new. On a daily basis I go quickly through my email using the right arrow at the top right of my inbox to scan each message. Most of them can be scanned and then discarded, but there are some that I want to read more carefully or respond to. I click on the star next to the messages that I want to keep. Each time I open a message it is marked as read. In Gmail and (I am pretty sure) in most email programs that means that the message goes fromBOLD to regular font. I can then easily go back to my inbox and put checks in the box next to the ones I have scanned avoiding the ones with stars and click delete or archive. Then, theoretically, once a day or once a week I spend more time taking care of the starred messages.