National Marketing Email Unsubscribe Day September 1st on Labor Day

Get your life back (and time) from your inbox. Unsubscribe from email newsletters and marketing messages on Labor Day September 1st.

I am proposing that everyone take (an hour or so of) time on Labor Day to clean out your overloaded email boxes and unsubscribe to the emails you always delete or file to read and never come back to. If you have not read it in a month or longer or you delete the email newsletter or marketing messages every time you see them, just scroll down to the end of the email window and click the unsubscribe link.

I think that everyone has the best intentions when they subscribe to email newsletters and marketing messages. I have subscribedto a lot of them over the years and only this week did I finally get to my breaking point when hundreds of messages were commonplace after only a few days away from the computer. Most were from companies I had purchased things from in the past, social networking sites that send you an email every time something happens, blogs which send updates via feedblitz and news sites that send news and links as they happen. Oh and the ubiquitous google alert on anything I was a fan of or working on at that moment. There were also some marketing newsletters from publications that write about the industry that I work in but as time has gone on some were relevant and others, not so much. Sometimes you also have to subscribe to and email newsletter in order try it and see what info they send. If you get all kinds of stuff that isn’t helpful, it’s time to unsubscribe.

I am guessing I unsubscribed to around 100 email newsletters. Everything from travel sites with airfare updates to flights to Paris to the Anthropologie and Nordstrom sale newsletters. (I’m sad to see those go but I never buy anything there, too expensive) I aim to take back the 3-4 hours a week it took to weed through all these alerts and updates on everything from celebrity news to Chicago entertainment options. I still get some alerts and some emails I am actually using but we will see if I can weed it out further and regain another hour of my week back.

If you think about it, you only have so much free time after work and why would you want to be mildly entertained by marketing messages when you could be out living your life? Or writing your own email messages to real live humans.

Update: I went from 150 messages in a weekend and 100 messages a day to 45 messages in a weekend and about 40 messages per day in the email account that was in question. I still have another email account I have not completley pruned and my work email that also needs pruning but this is a start! Information overload and email overload have been taking place too long. I aim to get my time and life back.

Update: I just spent the last 2 months ignoring this email box after it was initially pruned. What happened? I got 2,000 email messages and had to spend my christmas vacation cleaning it out. I took about 3 hours on 12/20 and about 3 hours on 12/29 to read, skim, file, delete and unsubscribe through this list of 2,000 emails. I also had to change alerts to weekly from daily and reroute some newsletters that are useful to a new email address I use more often. I hope now that the box won’t need as much maintenance but as soon as I get the list down more marketers seem to get my address and start emailing me. Most of what I unsubscribed from today was newsletters I never signed up for in the first place. Some were others I had a hard time letting go of (Etsy and Chicago Mom’s Blog) but knew it wasn’t going to get read.

Are you going to unsubscribe to more emails in 2009?

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Email management for overloaded email boxes circa 2008

I have noticed I spend a lot of time sifting through email these days. I have several accounts for different purposes and they fill up quickly with both subscriptions I have started and a lot of spam I never requested. I know that spam is just the price we pay right now for an app like email, but I hope that someday the spammers are put out of business because of the awful things they do stealing identities and personal information.

Anyway, my post wasn’t supposed to be about spam. It was about email volume circa 2008. I do get a lot of spam, and because one email address I have dates back to 1996 that one gets about 50% spam.  The spam filter I have does catch about 80% of it but the other 20% is annoying and dangerous.

The other 60% of that old email address mail is a lot of subscriptions since I am more likely to read an email than go find a bookmark of a blog every few days. The web based email is about 25% spam and the work email is maybe 1% spam, they are pretty good at blocking it.

I found this feedblitz and email update technology immensely helpful in the beginning since I check email anyway and it was a way to kill 2 tasks with one stone. Now though, things have gotten out of hand. I estimate that I get about 200 emails per day between 3 accounts. That is a bit more than I intended. True, it may be time to unsubscribe to some newsletters and updates but then it might go down to 150. Knowing this, you might understand why I gave up on RSS feeds in 2004.

Email is just too ingrained into our business and consumer culture as a communication medium. Or at least it is for Gen-Xers like myself. I do feel the pressure of the millennials and Gen-Yers to go to a social networking communication platform and I have profiles on all the major sites with plenty of contacts/friends but it’s just not home base for me. For a while one circle of people I knew were using MySpace as a hub for communication, but they were in the Arts, as many MySpacers are. Now that I no longer have time for extra cirricular activities I have lost touch with them and my MySpace page. I also have an online client email I use for personal stuff and of course the ubiquitous work email. I also have a 4th email that I don’t use because 3 is really enough.

I was reading this article today about how people manage their emails and BAM it was exactly how I managed them without me even really thinking about how I categorize things. Literally things just evolved the way they worked best over the past 10 years. The old old email became a place for all the sign ups you had to complete for one reason or another, login info for registrations and updates and such but not time sensitive stuff because I moved my most critical emails over to the web based email when it got too cluttered and I wanted to be able to access it anywhere rather than just at home on my computer in outlook. The second web based email also became a place to move personal communication off the work email account since in the beginning there was no line between them and then there suddenly was one day in about 2004. The work account also gets some alerts and such but only work related. (yes, that’s a blurry line since its online media and marketing that I work in)

Overall, I was surprised that I fit their archetype “to a tee” and that I evolved this way without even thinking of it. The gen-x and gen-y people have a hard time separating work from personal (especially if you work in onlinemedia, its all online anyway at the click of a mouse, it only takes a second!) and this will only provide harder in the future as more is expected of us as we balance family and work all in less time. I hope this setup satisfies the need for different urgencies, disclosures and personalizations of emails as well as productivity and time management. All this digital overload is consuming in a very empty way really. I feel like I must look through all this and read it every day yet very little is really going to impact my work or my life. I am mostly off email on weekends and I find it not that different but I have more time suddenly. Hmmm…must pare down email newsletters soon.

I have a compulsion to keep my email boxes cleaned out once a day and reply to anything that needs it from work or personal in 24 hours. I wonder if I will be able to keep that up in the future and if I will have to integrate more mandatory social networking at some point to keep up with those 10 years younger than me? 

I also recently started using the rescue time application to log and review where I am in a day and how much is actually spent on email and work. I have since cut my work email time in 1/2 and ditto for the personal email also. It’s a good application for self time management, but I wouldn’t want to use it for work purposes officially. I like that I have control over it and am not evaluated based on it since I have my days where I am not as productive. But the application helps me get back on track and out of the funk quicker.

As a consumer do I like being emailed by companies? Sometimes yes. If I opt in to your email I may be marginally or really interested in hearing from you depending on how much your product fits my life and work. If the emails provide no help or relevance whatsoever, they will get deleted and unsubscribed within a few months. If you send me discounts, new product info or other locally relevant information or content I am really into that helps me do my job, I am happy to read and click to help your ROI. I think email is better than direct mail because of the targeting and the lack of paper it uses. (save the trees) I would much rather an email from most companies than a flyer in the mail box. Plus it gives me the control to turn it off when it’s no longer relevant. Trust me, I will re-subscribe if the situation changes, I am a newsletter nut, that is for sure. And I think my generation is in general. But don’t expect us to buy-buy-buy stuff just because you emailed it to us. If we don’t need or want it we just consider the offer and decide no this time. It’s ok, we will find you when we need it, even if it is a month or two from now. And frequency is an issue. I am annoyed by some weekly emails because how often do you really need to know about the same product over and over again? Monthly is fine, or how about every other week?  

So, all of this is kind of my unwritten rules of email, work and business, and I hope that we continue to figure things out to make communication and information finding more efficient and less time consuming while still productive. Now if I could only find a way to maintain 3 blogs more efficiently too.