What I Learned About Email While on Vacation

Yellowstone_August2015_12_copyThe Epic Montana Adventure

Our 2015 summer vacation took four of us through the wilds of western Montana. We camped in the southern reaches of the Bitterroot Valley before traversing deep into the Ruby River outback. We enjoyed Yellowstone National Park next. Our return path took us through Bozeman before heading north back to Whitefish.
Internet connectivity was sporadic throughout the trip, with the longest disconnection occurring for 72 hours. Valuable lessons were learned about our connected lives.

Observations on Modern Connected Lifestyles

There were two very pointed lessons learned about our connected lives during this trip:

  1. We Live in a Connected World. Each time we “got signal,” all four of us were heads down on our devices, if only for a few minutes. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We all have personal and professional responsibilities to which we must attend. The only danger here is in denying the reality – we live and participate in a connected world. Acknowledging the fact allows us to manage it in a healthy and productive manner.
  2. We Get Too Much Self-Inflicted Email. Speaking for myself, I found that 90% of the email in my inbox was unnecessary. In fact, most of it was self-inflicted – newsletters and such that I had subscribed to under the guise of staying current. When I only saw them in bulk every two or three days, I just deleted them. Moreover, their insidious nature became evident when I got them in bulk. That is, it seems like only a few every day, but when seen through the lens of several days, it’s a lot of junk.

Unsubscribe: Remedy Your Self-Inflicted Email Problem

The easiest remedy to email overload is to ruthlessly unsubscribe from all mailings that don’t deliver immediate value. I’ve spent the week unsubscribing from everything that didn’t meet this immediate value standard, including:

  • 95% of all daily/weekly newsletters.
  • All Google Alerts.
  • All LinkedIn notices.
  • All internal group emails from my other company.
  • I mark as spam the emails that don’t provide me an unsubscribe option. Shame on them.

Yes, Even This Newsletter Counts

I recommend you do the same. Be vicious in your unsubscribing, which includes asking to be removed from low/no-value internal groups. It even includes this newsletter if you aren’t getting immediate value from it.

Every minute you don’t spend deleting unnecessary email is a minute you can spend on the important things in your life.

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