Recently it occured to me that the vast majority of email that I get is not personally directed at me - and that it’s providing little value. Or, to put it another way - I was getting a ton of marketing emails.
For every 25 emails I was getting, maybe 2 were ones that were either personally written to me or actually relevant to my life.
While tools like Gmail make it easy to clear those “noise” emails out fairly quickly, I wanted to address the root cause of this, and found a couple things that I thought might be helpful to others.
1. Look through your Trash and All Mail for common sources of noise
A great place to start is to go into your trash folder (in any email client) and start scanning for common sources of noise. Typically those are in the form of marketing emails from organizations that you did business with in some form or another.
Ruthlessly open a recent example of such an email, and scour the bottom of it for the “unsubscribe” link. Some make you jump through hoops, but most these days seem to support “one click” unsubscribing.
Just today I unsubscribed from:
- A yoga studio that we used once on vacation
- The out of state car dealership that we got our last car from
- An out of state museum we went to with our kids
… and the list goes on.
In Gmail, though, if you’ve “Archived” such email, you will need to look in your “All Mail” view to see those read, but not trashed, emails.
2. Update LinkedIn email preferences
I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the biggest sources of email noise is LinkedIn.
Luckily, they do have a buried page that allows you to turn off most of it: https://www.linkedin.com/psettings/communications-controls/email.
Go there, and uncheck what you don’t want (which is probably most of it).
3. Turn off Amazon marketing emails
I have had rules in place for years in Gmail to hide anything from Amazon because the sheer volume of email that I was getting was insane. However, this also prevented me from getting emails that I actually did care about - namely, notifications of orders shipping.
After looking around, though, there is a page that Amazon provides that allows you to unsubscribe from all marketing emails:
Be sure to uncheck everything in “Marketing Information by Post” and “Promotional Emails”.
4. Turn off Facebook notifications
Facebook is also an email noise factory - especially when you’ve logged out for a while. They have a page that sort of lets you ratchet this down, but I don’t have a lot of faith in it:
Bonus: Use Rules
If you are a Gmail user, do familiarize yourself with the Rules feature. If unsubscribing doesn’t fix a problem for you, you can at least keep those emails out of your inbox.