How Newsletters and Marketing emails have taken over our inboxes.
GTD separates your email (and other inputs) into essentially three types of things, and provides guidance as to how to process them:
- Actionable: Create an entry in your TO DO list(s)
- Reference: Read, or Archive and Read Later
- Neither: Throw away
The whole point of such a system is that you really want to make sure you don’t lose track of anything Actionable. However, if you get a large number of emails, just processing itself becomes a big time suck. Therefore it would be a shame if too many things that are for reading, get in the way of the primary goal: managing your actions. What can we do?
Unsubscribe - ALL THE THINGS.
We used to be told that you should never unsubscribe from spam because all it accomplishes is validating to “them” that your email address is real. However - I think we’ve won the war on spam. Evident by the fact that 99% of the truly evil spam already ends up in my Spam folder.
It may not occur to many people, but really, you can unsubscribe. And it works! That marketing email from Gap you’ve been receiving every week for 3 years since you bought that one t-shirt? Click on unsubscribe, they’ll stop sending it to you. That mailing list for your local JCC you got on by providing your email address when signed up for the gym? Click on unsubscribe, it’ll stop.
Now you may be thinking that there are some things in there you really are interested in reading. I argue to you that email is too action-oriented to allow any reading materials to arrive to you through it. Think about it…when you really want to sit down, relax and read something…do you open your email? No! You open your RSS reader, or pick up your iPad and open FlipBoard, or The Magazine, or look at Twitter.
What then? If there is something interesting that you can only get through email, bring it to that 2nd place - the reading place. One example: Bring them to your RSS reader; Create a rule to automatically put them in a folder, and use Gmail’s Inbox Feed feature to create an RSS feed out of them.