I recently took a few days off in Copenhagen (disconnected, of course) and absolutely loved the experience! It was my first time to a Scandinavian country and I was struck by how calm, peaceful, relaxed and joyful everyone was.
Out for dinner one night, I noticed something unique: people were actually talking with each other versus looking down at their phones. It was a beautiful site and as someone who lives between New York, Toronto and London, the cultural difference was clear.
Checking for email is a common reason why many have become addicted to the small screen and find themselves constantly distracted, unable to focus and challenged to concentrate.
A few years ago, I started a simple practice to remove all junk and email not directly sent to me in an automated way from my inbox, and I’m sure it has saved me thousands of hours.
The practice is simple: setting up an email filter that automatically removes any email with the word “unsubscribe” in it. If you don’t know how, I have detailed instructions below, including why I care about this.
I dislike the way we use email
This is why I took email off my phone (5 years ago).
The first email ever sent was by Ray Tomlinson, a programmer, in 1971 to connect information from one computer to another computer (both of which were right beside each other). Email is from the stone ages, or at least the way we use it (which has not evolved that much over the past 40 years). Email was not designed to facilitate efficient and effective communication at the scale we now operate, with billions of people connected on tens of billions of devices.
At Polar, we have cut out all internal email. That’s right, no one at my company sends an email to me or to one another. All of our communication and collaboration happens on Slack.
Spam costs me real money
A few stats to that quantify the impact:
$20 Billion annually is the cost to businesses in decreased productivity in the US alone due to spam and unwanted emails, based on estimates from Radicati Research Group.$1,934 is the average loss per employee annually because of spam, according to Nucleus Research estimates.58 billion junk emails will be sent every day within four years from now and the costs will rise to $198 billion annually globally, with some researchers estimating that the costs may be as high as $257 billion based on the growth of spam.43% of adults in the US report that more than half of their emails are spam related, according to Blue Kangaroo research.
This is why I’ve taken responsibility of this issue at an individual level, and you should to.
Taking back control in 7steps
The practice that I follow to take back control of my focus, via better control of my inbox, is simple. Creating an email filter that will automatically move any incoming emails that have the word “unsubscribe” in them to a separate folder.
Here is a simple 7 step guide to doing this in Gmail:
1. Open Gmail. Click the ‘gear’ icon in the top right hand corner, and click on Settings.
2. Click on Filters and Blocked Addresses.
3. Click on Create a new filter.
4. Type “unsubscribe” in the Has the words field and click “Create filter with this search”.
5. Check “Apply the label” and then “New label…”.
6. Type “Remove” and click Create.
7. Click Create filter.
And you’re done!
You will see a folder in your inbox called Remove where any email that is spam or unwanted will likely go. My best practice to quickly scan this folder every one or two weeks (at most), and I am reminded every time how grateful I feel to not have to stare at all of these messages throughout my waking, productive and focused hours.
Now you too are unsubscribed.