End Your Dysfunctional Relationship With Junk Email

unsubscribe email checkingSeveral weeks ago, I had a realization: I was spending a lot of time deleting email. Every day, I seemed to get dozens of unwanted emails that I deleted unread. This wasn't pure spam. It was announcements from groups I was no longer part of, emails from companies I'd bought something from years ago, newsletters I'd wound up on somehow, and poorly targeted press releases. I decided to keep track of the number of such emails as I was deleting them one Friday. By the end of the day, I'd deleted 90 emails, unread. This seemed like a lot. Not because deleting took time (a few seconds per email at most). I realized that the bigger problem was that the high volume of emails meant I always had email when I checked. And that made me check more frequently than was probably wise.

So over the past few weeks I've undertaken what I'm calling "The Great Unsubscribe." Any email that I usually delete unread I have decided to, instead, open and follow the unsubscribe instructions. Most have been pretty clear about how to do this. I'm on a few foreign language newsletters (which I can't even read! Why are they emailing me??) that I haven't figured out, but I'm working on it. A few more aggressive emailers have had an unsubscribe link that doesn't work. The retailers make a pitch to keep you by informing you that you can get emails less often (once a week instead of every single day). In general, I haven't gone for that, though. I've just been unsubscribing away.

Slowly, the deluge is being reduced. A few of the daily email sites schedule things quite a few days ahead of time, so it's taken more than a week for the emails to stop. But when I woke up the past two mornings, rather than have 40-plus new emails, I have closer to 20.

Will the reduced volume make me more calm or productive? I have no idea. I have a post planned about how I think people are too obsessed with clutter in general. But deleting Victoria's Secret ads basically every single day was just draining. I'm glad to have that time back - even if it's only a few seconds.


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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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Laura Vanderkam is the author of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Portfolio, 2012), and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, 2010). She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children, and blogs daily at www.lauravanderkam.com.

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bestspellcaster

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September 20 2013 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
medaboss2

I don't care if you don't read your junk mail....PLEASE don't opt out of it! I work for a paper company and the internet has already affected our jobs!!! Please people we need our jobs!!! not a lot of manufacturing jobs left in the good old USA!! I need my job!

June 10 2012 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jim

Thru AOL I report unwanted mail as spam and it seems to work as I get one or two junk mail aday,

June 10 2012 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
empirebldr

One thing that nobody mentioned is to not forward jokes or other "pass this around" type of email. If you must forward it, delete all the previous addressrs first. You can do that after you hit the "forward" button, but before "send".

June 10 2012 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
victor.laslow

Oh, and P.S. this writer, Laura Vanderkam...hasn't a clue!

June 10 2012 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
victor.laslow

With all the respect I can muster, and based on my own experience, unsubscribing to email senders does not work, and with some, unsubscribing makes it worse. When you unsubscribe you must provide your email address. That gets put on an unsubscribe list. That list is sold and used by those companies that use it to send those on the list more email. Therefore, in my opinion, sitting there and unsubscribing is a waste of time. It's simpler to just delete junk email and hope it goes away forever.

June 10 2012 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cuencaguy

UNSUBSCRIBE only works for "legitimate" spammers- of which most are NOT. When you "unsubscribe" you now have proven to the bad spammers that your e-mail is a valid address- and they turn around an hit you with more. NEVER EVER unsubscribe unverifiable spam sources. You are only begging for more junk spam. The author of this item has NO CLUE what she is talking about!!

June 10 2012 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Prescott

Laura, the problem with your system is that some 'spam' email groups use the "Delete" function as a way to know you opened the email and read it. They, then, add you to the email list they sell to others. I suggest you look into the email block function of your email provider. Just a thought. . .

June 10 2012 at 1:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John Prescott's comment
alycemd

I get a lot of spam email, and I just report it as spam, but I still getb it. Any suggestions for that? I thought if you reported something as spam, you wouldn't be able to get anymore email from them. Am I wrong about that? I ask because I'm basically computer illiterate. Thanks.

June 10 2012 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
michaelsr

Anyone know how to change your user name for posting here??

June 10 2012 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to michaelsr's comment
alycemd

Go to AOL Help and ask maybe?

June 10 2012 at 1:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
NANCY

if you find out please let me know was wondering the same thing

June 10 2012 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
QHHOA

"UNSUBSCRIBEING has worked wonders for me. I found it is easier and quickler faster than blocking, which I have used on occassion.

June 10 2012 at 12:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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