Some emails you want just in case there is a sale or a coupon, some emails you don’t ever want again, and some emails you want to read but not right now. Managing each email as it lands into your inbox is one way to handle the problem, but it takes time and still some things slip through the cracks. So I sat down on a Saturday morning to set up automatic email management, and I was surprised to be done with the most vexing emails in just 5 minutes.
I couldn’t have done it at a better time (unless, of course, I’d done it sooner), because this past week has been extremely busy. I do wish I had done it sooner, because it was so easy. Here is what I did with the emails I want but don’t want to see, emails I never want to see, and emails I want to read — later.
Emails I Want to Keep But Don’t Want Clogging up my Inbox:
You know these emails. They scream: We are having the best sale ever and you don’t want to miss it! And the next week, you get the same kind of email from the same retailer. I’m onto them. I don’t want to rush into their store to spend money on stuff I only kinda-sorta want. When money is tight, I only want to spend money on things I need. When I do need something, and before I go to the store I want to make sure I have any coupons they’re offering to email subscribers. These are the emails I want to keep but don’t want clogging up my inbox.
Behold the beauty of Gmail’s “filter” feature.
It took me 2 minutes to filter these emails into my “shopping” folder in gmail. It was super duper easy, and a great way to resist a tempting sale. Filtering emails can get them sent straight to a folder, skipping your inbox and your eyeballs. When you’re ready to go shopping at that store, just pop in to your “Shopping” folder and see what offers or coupons they have going on. It takes 4 steps:
1. Check off all the emails from retailers that you don’t want to see.
2. Click on the “More” button in your gmail, and select “filter messages like these” from the dropdown menu.
2. Click “”Create filter with this search” (in the bottom left of the popup window).
3. Check off “Skip the Inbox” and “Apply the Label,” and select the label you want to apply. For me, it’s “Shopping.” Click “Create Filter.”
Easy peasy, right? See how it works for you over the next week, and you will find other promotional emails have piled up. Don’t delete them — just save them for the end of the week and use them to create another filter.
Emails I Never Want to See Again
No, not emails with notices from your bank that your account is overdrawn. I never want to see them, but I have to see them if they’re sent. I’m talking about the emails that you get from a car dealership you’ll never do business with again or the stuff you never signed up for. That’s what the “spam” button is for in your gmail. Mark it spam and you’ll never see it again — emails from that sender get sent straight to spam. They do not pass by your inbox and do not collect $200.
The other option is to unsubscribe to them — it usually takes 30 seconds per email to do this, so it’s more time-consuming. But if it’s from a sender that you may use in the future (I’m talking to you, job search websites), you may want to just “unsubscribe.” There will be a link in the email that should make it easy. If there isn’t a link, you can sue them! Sorry, lawyer joke. But not a joke. Heck, you could make a little bit of money while learning about our legal system.
By now, you’ve cleaned up your email inbox. Did it take you longer than 5 minutes? Are you regretting not doing it sooner? Don’t worry — you’re not alone.
You may or may not need to take this next step, which is to change your email subscriptions for blogs and articles to a blog reader. If you have a gazillion of these types of emails in your inbox, read on. Otherwise, enjoy your pristine inbox!
Emails I Want to Read In My Free Time:
I signed up for a lot of email subscriptions to personal finance and couponing blogs that I follow. I want to read them, but I would like to read them in my free time, and not have them staring me in the face when I’m handling personal emails. I have the problem of opening my email each morning and actually trying to sort through it all before moving on to work-related tasks. Sometimes, I find myself sitting at my desk at 11:30, without having billed 6 minutes (that’s 1/10th of an hour).
I decided to try out the blog reader Feedly. I unsubscribed to blogs and entered them into my feedly account. Not only can I read blogs in my free time or during breaks, but I can also see the titles of the posts — which makes it easier to sift through what looks interesting and what doesn’t.
Feedly allows you to designate blogs as “must reads.” I wish I users could share their reading lists like a Pinterest board. I would love to see some bloggers’ “must read” lists — I am most curious about J. Money’s list. Who is on my “must read”? Mr. Money Mustache, of course, More Than Money, Budgets are $exy, The Consumerist, Boston Student Loan Lawyer, and my friends’ blogs at Making Lemonade and Clever Girl Organizing.
Now that I’ve sorted, filtered, and unsubscribed from the emails pouring into my inbox, what should be next on my Productivity Plan? I think the two-hour commute needs to be addressed, don’t you?