Five Easy Ways to Trim Your Email Inbox and Still have Room for Tiramisu

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Lately, I’m obsessed with simplifying my life to make room for more quality living. Maybe it’s that old springtime feeling of needing to open the windows and watch merrily as the crisp linens flap in the breeze on the clothesline. Or maybe I’m finally applying my company’s “go small” methodology to my whole life, not just to the professional aspects.

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Photo credit: http://www.doggartdesign.co.uk

Heck, I have my groceries delivered, plan all my work meetings on two days during the week to spend less time in transit, and so why would I not do something about my flabby email?

I try to only check email twice a day and have turned off notices so I don’t jump like a cat caught in an electric fence each time one comes rolling in. I no longer receive Facebook alerts, yet I still have the problem of volume and am constantly deleting emails I never read just to clear my inbox. I calculated that this task takes about one hour or more per day, which means I am wasting about 400 hours a year just deleting unread emails. I could be learning how to fence or swing dance. These aren’t client or personal emails obviously, but are typically from organizations whose causes I support mixed with consumer and news updates.

So, here’s a list of what I did and am still doing to trim down my email intake by 50 percent by the end of April. I hope you will join me in my challenge to lose those extra email pounds for spring!

1) Treat the emails you receive as you would clothes in your wardrobe. You know that rule: If you don’t wear it in a year then it goes to charity. For email updates, newsletters, etc., if you haven’t looked at it in over a month, then you should definitely unsubscribe. As an example, when I was travelling in Europe recently, it was great to have email updates from Trenitalia (trains in Italy) and the London Underground. Yet, now, as I'm in Canada, it’s not at all useful for me to read on a Tuesday morning that there’s engineering work at Piccadilly. That's an obvious example, but you get my drift.

2) Many updates are accessible via RSS feed, so instead of receiving these notifications in your email inbox, why not subscribe to an RSS reader or aggregator? I use Feedly for this purpose because I like their clean interface. I still want to know how causes I support are making a difference, when those 100 per cent organic cotton jeans go on sale, yet I also want to be able to access that information on my own–and on my own time. Go to the sites you usually receive email alerts from and instead subscribe to their feeds. You'll find it makes life a whole lot simpler.

3) A client put me on to Google smartsheet as a way to manage projects and collaborate online. Although I don’t have much experience with it yet, I’ve seen how it can cut down on the number of emails sent back and forth during the course of a project, and so I’m basically sold on it. Try it out for free; you won’t regret it.

4) If friends are sending you emails that are longer than a couple paragraphs, you probably need to tell them to phone you instead. I know talking on the phone isn’t how the cool kids communicate, but if it takes less time then it’s hip enough for me.

5) I like to pair my RSS feeds intake with a selections of apps. If you have an iPhone, iPad or other tablet device then you can do this to stay current on what interests you. Apple has over 500,000 apps so there’s lots to choose from. My favourite food app is from Epicurious. It enables you to search by main ingredient, meal, cuisine, dietary consideration and dish type, and you can ‘favorite’ recipes and make shopping lists. The epi app has 31 tiramisu recipes to choose from so that pretty much says it all. There’s limoncello tiramisu, mixed berry with lime curd….

Is your appetite convinced? I know mine is.

How are you using email differently, and have you come up with any creative ways of cutting down on the amount of emails you receive? I'd love to hear from you!

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