In 1998, I opened my first e-mail account. It was exciting! I subscribed to daily newsletters, e-mailed friends in high school, and shared any e-mail that was remotely interesting. I’m scared to think of the total number of hours I spent using e-mail.
Fifteen years later there have been many changes to the Internet. Spam comes at you left and right. Spammers are always looking for ways to find new e-mail addresses. Some companies share or even sell your information to others. Most companies have an online presence, and want to keep in contact with you. The volume of e-mails can quickly become unmanageable. Now that I have a family, I want to spend as much time with them and as little time with e-mail as possible .
Here are some tips to help keep your e-mail volume at a manageable level:
- Use different e-mail accounts. I use one e-mail account for only personal contacts. Family, close friends, and work is all that goes into my primary e-mail account. My secondary e-mail account is for everything else. I always use the secondary e-mail for online accounts and purchases. I get phone alerts on my primary e-mail address, but may check my secondary e-mail every few days or so.
- Use reputable companies. When shopping, I prefer a company I already use. I have my e-mail preferences set at Amazon and Ebay, so I feel safer shopping there. When I buy from a company that is new to me, I pay close attention to options such as subscribing to their newsletter or receiving special offers. This also applies to installing software – watch out for “free” programs that default to installing other software or subscribe you to marketing offers.
- Unsubscribe when appropriate. The companies you do business with may offer more e-mail than you want to deal with. When you start seeing frequent e-mails such as daily deals or sale event notifications, ask yourself if this is a good use or a waste of your time. Unsubscribing is an easy process and companies should have instructions at the bottom of the e-mail.
- Manage spam. Most e-mail services already have spam protection, but some spam slips through. If you can’t identify it by the subject, then don’t even open it. If you do open it and don’t know the company, don’t click any links within the e-mail. Delete the e-mail and consider blocking the address.
- Avoid chain e-mails. These are e-mails that make a plea for you to forward to everyone in your address book. It’s all too easy to do a mass forward, and I strongly advise against it. Every one I’ve ever read has been junk that I wasn’t interested in. Now I can spot these by the subject line and delete them without reading, and I’ve politely asked my friends not to send me these anymore.
I’ve never heard a person say that they don’t get enough e-mail. So control your e-mail, and don’t let it control your time. For those of you who try to manage your e-mail, what other ways have you found to make e-mail a more enjoyable, less time-consuming experience?