Last month, we asked readers, the following question:
Which inbox issue are you trying to solve?
- a) I write emails during nonworking hours (e.g., 4 a.m., weekends, holidays).
- b) The number of emails I get each day is out of control.
- c) I need to translate my emails into tasks on a to-do list.
- d) My email signature leads people nowhere.
- e) I write the same email over and over again.
For those who answered, “I write emails during nonworking hours,” we suggested that you try a Google add-on called Boomerang. Sidenote: Boomerang just released an email app, so if you took our suggestion and like what you found, you might want to check that out.
If your email issues aren’t solved yet, keep reading. This month we are tackling answer b) The number of emails I get each day is out of control.
How many times a week are you asked the question, “May we have your email address?” This has resulted in fewer ads to toss from our mailboxes, but so much junk cluttering our inboxes. Here are some strategies for tackling this clutter. We hope that one or two of these suggestions will work for you.
1) Use a different email address. Maybe you have an old Yahoo address lying around somewhere. It used to be your go-to email address, but then Gmail came along, and your Yahoo account has long since been abandoned. Put that address back in the rotation. When the clerk at the grocery store asks for your email address and promises a 5 percent incentive for providing one, give out the email address that you rarely use. This separates the promotions and junk mail from email that is personally addressed to you.
2) File email in folders. Many email services now offer different folder options for social and promotional email. They will even automatically “move” emails into these folders for you based on the sender and number of recipients. Some people also set filters to automatically send specific emails to named folders.
3) Use email apps. One approach to try is to use different email apps for your different email addresses. Rather than including all of your email accounts in one place, keep them separate. For example, you could use Inbox to manage your personal email and the native Mail app on your iPhone to manage your work email. This also helps you not to see work emails on weekends and evenings when you are searching for emails like the buy one, get one sale at your favorite store.
4) Stop the notifications. We read somewhere that we are becoming a bit addicted to “breaking news.” It used to be that a notification meant something, but now notifications happen constantly. Take back your peace. Stop the email notifications (or pause them temporarily) until you need them. Want to know if a flight is delayed? OK, maybe keep that one. Notifications from your bank about deposits and withdrawals? OK, that seems important too. But think long and hard about some of the other nonurgent notifications you may be receiving and make a conscious choice to turn them off. You can always turn them back on if you miss them.
5) Unroll.me. If you’re already drowning in email and are weeding through promos and notifications, you can use Unroll.me to see all of your email subscriptions in one place. You’ll be shocked to see how many subscriptions you receive! Knowing how many email subscriptions you have is half the battle. You can use this tool to unsubscribe from various email lists all at once, or create a “Rollup,” which allows you to get one email per day featuring all the emails and promos you’ve selected. Unroll.me creates an email digest so that you can look at all of the information once a day, saving you time and energy while keeping your inbox clean.
6) Say no thank you. As counselors, we tell our clients all the time to set better boundaries. It’s OK to decline when a company asks for your email address.
Clerk: “What’s a good email address for you?”
Us: “No thank you.”
That’s one less email we have to delete on a regular basis!
We hope these email tips will help you spend less time clearing out email and more time on what is important to you. Check back next month to learn strategies to translate your email into a to-do list.
Adria S. Dunbar is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. She has more than 15 years of experience with both efficient and inefficient technology in school settings, private practice and counselor education. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth A. Vincent is an assistant professor at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, in counselor. She is a counselor educator, licensed school counselor and former career counselor who is driven to learn everything there is to know about innovative productivity software so that she can help counselors be their most present selves. Contact her at email@example.com.
Our Instagram is @techncounselor (instagram.com/techcounselor/).
Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.