I started thinking more seriously about decreasing email load in a very different way as I processed today’s messages. Until now, I have depended on Smartlabels to keep marketing emails out of view. This worked doubly well because while the messages stayed out of my way, I still had access to them in the future. For example, when I was ready to buy something, I could look through my email archive for coupons or other types of discounts.
It makes sense to receive marketing messages from vendors that I purchased from in the past, but I also continue to receive messages from vendors that I had never previously purchased from. This latter group was mostly made up of vendors that I believed I may purchase from in the future, though there were also some vendors that I really had no intention of ever patronizing.
The problem is that all of these marketing messages are ultimately just noise. I will rarely– if ever– make use of any of them. I allow these messages to collect in the background mostly for future potentialities (e.g. if I want to buy something in the future), which is a poor justification for doing anything.
Still, due to the potential value they hold, it has been hard to simply toss marketing messages. At the moment though, stopping the influx of such messages is sounding more and more like a good idea. Why should I spend time week after week scanning through these messages when 99% of the time I’m simply going to delete them or archive them without reading anything more than their subject line?
Now that email is being managed faster than ever, other inefficiencies are coming into focus. Even though these marketing messages are nicely grouped together and can be processed (i.e. deleted) in less than a minute, they are becoming more and more of a burden. I wistfully imagine how nice it would be to see single-digit counts of bulk messages in the future. Heck, even double-digits counts would be nice.
I keep these messages around because I don’t want to miss any opportunities (e.g. use of coupons or sales). This is exactly what marketers depend on though, so I just need to cut the cord.
The Great Purge
Today I went through the 300 most recent marketing messages in my email archive to unsubscribe from as many unnecessary mailing lists as possible.
- Messages processed: 300
- Total Canceled Subscriptions: 61
- Never used: 33 (54%)
- Rarely used: 28 (46%)
- Duration: 01:06:51
I also created filters for a handful of vendors.
Unfortunately, some vendors do not provide a way to unsubscribe from marketing messages short of closing your account completely (e.g. Amazon), so I’m just sending these messages straight to the trash. I resent having to keep a filter around just for this, but it’s the simplest way to be free of messages from these vendors.
In addition, there are some vendors that I do purchase from so it would be good to keep abreast of coupons and sales that they are offering. For these vendors, I also send their messages straight to the trash, but for a different reason. Gmail automatically purges all deleted messages after 30 days. This means that when I search my mail for coupons and discounts from a particular vendor, I’ll only have their most recent messages to wade through. Besides, if a coupon was received more than a month ago, it has almost assuredly already expired, so it doesn’t make sense to hold on to them.
Usually, deleted messages are not included in Gmail’s search results, but it’s pretty simple include them. For example, to get all messages (included deleted ones) from Newegg, type the following in Gmail’s search box:
Now I can keep these messages way out of view unless I explicitly choose to see them, and Gmail deletes the old and crusty ones for me automatically!
In the end, I may definitely miss out on the occasional deal, but at least I won’t be subjecting myself to the noise of these marketing emails I’ll never read week after week. That’s a good deal in my book.