QUIT: Way Too Freakin’ Many E-Mail Subscriptions

[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end.  I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]


I’ve been struggling under a lot of overwhelm lately.  Too many things to pay attention to, too many things to take care of—and, on a more immediate level, too much stuff and information for one person to possibly process without going berserk.

And I refuse to go berserk.  I’ve got too many grand plans in store and have no patience for a sidetrack, plus I don’t think the crazy house is nearly as whimsical and touching as it’s portrayed it in movies like It’s Kind of a Funny Story.

So, the next couple of weeks will witness one rapid-fire series of clutter-related quits:  physical clutter quits, digital clutter quits, mental clutter quits.  I am ruthlessly clearing the path for a new life of focus, productivity, and a whole ’lotta awesomeness (have I mentioned there’s a big announcement coming mid-month?), and I simply haven’t the time or the interest for anything that doesn’t fit with that picture.

Not that that hasn’t been my philosophy throughout this whole shebang, but I guess you could say now I’m going into hyperdrive.

Which brings us to today’s quit:


The Ridiculous Amount of E-Mail I Get on a Daily Basis

It’s entirely my fault.  In my old “more is more” Get Things Done mentality, I signed up for every sales alert, blog feed, and newsletter I thought could ever potentially bring me lucrative savings, amusement/motivation, and/or useful information.  “The more you know,” and all that—right?

I figured I didn’t really have anything to lose; if some of the messages weren’t relevant, then it was just a quick clickety-click on the “delete,” and I’d be none the worse for it.  It was small hassle to pay to soothe my OCD need to always be on top of everything all the time.

Except that as my subscriptions have grown, they’ve taken on a life of their own.  My inbox has become something I dread facing every morning—something I have to grit my teeth and steel my gut to plow through.  I’ve created a monster, and it’s taken control of my mindspace.

There’s something amiss when you take a digital sabbatical for two days to visit a friend and return to find an inbox screaming with 227 potentially life-changing messages (or 227 irrelevant messages, times “one quick delete,” which is actually a whole hell of a lot of deletes).

There’s something amiss when every morning you open your inbox the way you’d open a letter from the IRS marked “Urgent-Response Required.”  No one should face the Hotmail sign-in screen with a mumbled prayer, a held breath, and a quick crossing of themselves for good measure.  (Especially not me, because the only religion I acknowledge is The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so I’ve never really figured out the correct way to do the whole crossing-yourself thing.  Largely, I just wave my hand across my shoulder/head area in a vague manner and hope it looks legit.)

Long ramble short, the e-mail monster has gotsta go.



The sad thing is that I’ve already taken a stand against e-mail overload, and I’ve been pretty successful at it, as far as it can go.  But until I get the actual volume of my e-mail under control, my stand doesn’t accomplish much.

Sure, I quit checking my e-mail compulsively.  But that doesn’t do a lick of good if every time I do check I’m confronted with an avalanche of little envelope icons that makes my breathing start to go shallow and rapid.  Enough, as they say, is freakin’ enough.

So maybe I’ll miss out on a deal or two at Target if I cancel my sales alerts.  But the chance I’ll actually need any of the things on sale, and have the money/time to purchase them during the limited window their price is reduced, isn’t enough to make it worth having to slog through a quicksand of hot, hot bargains every time I visit my inbox.  The Return on Investment has rapidly plunged into the negative.

And yes, I really do love the SPCA and the fantastic no-kill shelter where we got our beloved schnorkie, Scrappy Doo.  But I don’t have to prove it with space in my inbox.  I go to the fundraisers and recommend them to everyone and donate whenever I can.  It doesn’t mean I’m revoking my support by deciding I don’t need to know every new pet that’s gone up for adoption today.  I don’t think they’ll even know when I unsubscribe.  I’m certainly sure it won’t cause any of the animals to have a Sarah McLachlan moment and wonder, wide-eyed, why I no longer love them.  (I do, puppies and kitties!  Every last one of you!)

It’s ridiculous, in other words, the things that have kept me hanging on to all this extra inbox clutter.  And it’s time to start unsubscribing like a motherF’er.

Because I have so many more things to do with my time.


Game on.

Or off, as it were.

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • You can replace many email notices through an RSS reader or http://friendica.com/ which can bring a lot of  your items like social media together. I like it (no paid link there, and not mine).

    • Great idea; I’ll have to check that out.  Thanks!

  • I try to never actually subscribe through email but rather just subscribe to RSS feeds. I love reading articles and blogs but sometimes, if there is too many, it gets so overwhelming!

    •  Yeah, my fear with RSS feeds is that they’ll become like Twitter for me–I’ll be able to drop in and glance at stuff, but I’ll inevitably miss seeing “everything” because the timeline will get too long.

      That said, I’m missing a lot more by clicking through a zillion emails, so I think reducing my subscriptions overall will go a long way towards helping with the overload.

  • Amen – I did this a while back and try to do a periodic list cleanse once in a while. I only keep the ones that really bring me value, and I don’t keep anything that is just a duplicate of an RSS feed. Also, I noticed that getting sales emails in my inbox creates a higher chance of me buying things I don’t need, so I got rid of those first! (except woot… but only because their copywriters are awesome and I like to read their work.) Good luck! It’s a big undertaking, but you’ll feel soo much better.  

    •  That’s a good point about sales alerts.  Sure, it’s great that I’m on the radar of all the bargain and group buy sites–but I’ve definitely made more than one purchase myself that I didn’t really need, solely because it was “such a good deal!”

  • I’m subscribed to (at last count) around 70 email marketing lists. I study them and use what I learn to help build my own email lists for niche sites I develop.

    I never see them in my inbox though – I have a set of labels set up for marketing lists, and a filter on my Gmail inbox that marks each incoming message as read, applies the appropriate label, and archives it.

    My inbox stays completely tidy, and I have access to all of the delicious competitive insight when I want it.

    •  I’ve started grouping my email into subfolders too–all sales alerts are automatically delivered to one, all survey requests to another, etc.  It lets me keep my inbox clearer for real action items, and it’s easier to browse through the subfolders in bulk rather than weeding through messages of all kinds and sorts in one big jumble.

  • Justwhatiam

    Good for you! I honestly wonder how you keep up with all the blogs for your Link Love Friday. I have about 1,600+ emails in my inbox. I unsubscribe periodically. I delete. I sweep. But I can never get out from under them all. Yet I know that when we clear space in our lives – physically, emotionally or digitally – it makes room for good things to come in. You have inspired me, Cordelia! I am going to clear out my inbox and set up a system to get rid of the email clutter.

    • Good for you!  It will be SO worth it.

      The secret to many of my Link Love finds are that yes, I do subscribe to a ton of blogs, but I also keep an eye on Twitter for recommendations from the people I follow.  I keep my Twitter follow list to just the people I really love, so it’s easier to keep up on, and I figure I’ll get wind of most of the week’s really great posts through them if I don’t happen upon them myself.

  • KyleighWegmann

    Good for you! I started on a similar endeavor last year…I’m finding that it takes “constant vigilance” on my part to make sure that when I do subscribe to things, they are for lists and info that I am truly passionate about. That is the only way I find that I can sort through the clutter. 

    • Constant vigilance is definitely the key–in keeping up with all sorts of clutter.  You have to start with a good system, but if you’re not diligent about keep up with that system (or sticking to your self policies), things will revert to clutter very quickly.

  • Nice! I had a massive clean-out recently of email newsletters and it feels SO good. All the best with the decluttering!

    •  Congrats!  I am definitely looking forward to that feeling of freedom.  🙂

  • Terra

    I am laughing out loud…hopefully legit hand gestures…Sarah McLachlan moments…! And, good advice. I favor a “slash and burn” approach, with the thought that if I really miss something, I’ll notice.

  • Melissa

    I did this a while ago, but then I ended up signing up for more things.  Thanks for reminding me to go on an “Unsubscribe” tear again!  🙂