I learned a productivity trick for my e-mail inbox the other day that is so amazing I just have to share it. When I implemented the change it immediately reduce the amount of actionable e-mail in my inbox by 50%.
I’ve had my e-mail address for many years and even though I have been diligently clicking on the unsubscribe link in various emails that I don’t want, I would still get lots of e-mail that I would have to look at and ignore.
Listening to a podcast by Tom Woods on productivity, he was interviewing a guest by the name of Ari Meisel, whose advice can be found at Less Doing. Ari’s recommendation was to optimize and then outsource things in your life so your time can be focused on the things you do best. As an example for optimization, Ari mentioned the email trick. He has a book also.
Ari’s point was that many of the emails that come to a person fall into the category of optional so you should set up a rule that puts these emails in an optional folder. When you review the optional folder you just scan for things like to put in there by mistake and you can deal with than that. You only need to do that review maybe once a day.
The tricky part is in how to do it. It is actually very simple. Create a folder in your email client called Optional. Then set up a rule that says anything with the words “unsubscribe” or “subscription” in it gets immediately moved to the optional folder. That’s it — nothing else. It just works.
UPDATE — In the week and I have been using and I’ve only had to make a couple of small modifications. One of them is I have the rule ignore emails that come from my family. Even if they forward things with the word “unsubscribe” in them I still need to reply to them. 🙂