Free your mind: The power of Unsubscribing from email lists

It’s that time of the year when I review what I’m doing and start re-visioning how I’d like my next twelve months to be. This year, I’ve decided that my future is going to have a lot less email.

I use email a lot. It’s my main connection with the world. I like it so much I even wrote an article about it for Flying Solo – which was re-published the other week as a 2008 Favourite. So when I decided that 2009 was going to be just focusing on what’s really important to me, I knew that meant that clearing out the clutter that lands in my Inbox.

What I am interested in now

I started the cull a few weeks ago as the sales bumpf masquerading as seasons greetings started flowing through. There are a few things I really love receiving – Boing Boing, Neatorama, the Pos Psych Developments list, the daily quotes from Kristin Coach, Rob Brezsny’s astrology, Treehugger.

Sales pitch does not equal value

There are many many other lists that I subscribed to when I was doing my research and are no longer relevant – so I’ve unsubscribed from dozens of coaching mailing lists. That feels very freeing, and I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything as they have tended to say the same thing for the last seven years I’ve been watching: Woo, change your life, pay me now.

Sending me crap will not make me buy

That’s not what I’m looking for at the moment. Actually, I’m not sure if it ever was. It’s such a shame when people start newsletters/blogs with something valuable to say and then lose it all to the sales pitch. I have a separate email that I use for signing up to “free report” lists that look a little dodgy. I’m curious enough, and the person has my attention, but then they usually go and stuff it up by clogging up my Inbox with their “offers”. I rarely check that particular email address but when I looked today there were over 1500 messages waiting for me. Some of the free report peddlers were sending up to five emails a week! It’s like I’d signed up for spam.

It’s not you, it’s me

Back at my everyday Inbox, there are some lists that were once great reads but I no longer get much from. Sure, some newsletters/blogs lose their mojo, but it’s more likely that I’ve heard enough of what they have to say, and I’m moving on. Then there are the mailing lists I stay with because they have one tiny bit of value that I appreciate.

Finding the hidden gems

I’ve been known to skim the ‘content’ of newsletters until I get to the “On a Personal Note” sections because I feel this is where the truth or insights of life start to shine through. There’s a very popular newsletter, This Is True, that is an entertaining and sometimes outrageous compilation of “truth is stranger than fiction” news stories from around the globe. But, I don’t actually read the stories, just my two favourite sections: the “Bonzer Website of the Week” and the “Honorary Unsubscribe” i.e death of a significant but usually unknown person. These are tiny sections at the end of the newsletter have kept me subscribed for years.

Similarly, another newsletter I read only for the “Who said this?” quote at the end. Unfortunately, that section’s gone so I’ll be unsubscribing. [Newsflash: Just received a copy and the section is back. Wow, how is that for a universal conspiracy?!]

What makes a great blog/newsletter?

So, for me, something that arrives in my Inbox, gets my attention, and makes it through my filters has one or more of these factors:

  • it is quirky or provides a different perspective on life
  • it is original or is saying something important in an innovative way
  • it is easy to read
  • it is personal and speaks to me – not down to me.
  • if it has a sales message – and I prefer it not to – it is clever and discreet
  • it makes me go “Wow” or laugh or marvel how amazing people can be (or nature for that matter).

Fortunately, email technology makes the Unsubscribe process easy now. So, as I’ve been culling and as the email-deluge has naturally subsided over the holidays, I have to say that I’ve been enjoying opening up my Inbox more and more. Now I know that everything that shows up is something I want to read. Isn’t that why we use email? It helps us stay in contact with the people, ideas and opportunities that will enhance our life.

[BTW you know can Subscribe or Unsubscribe to this blog by clicking up in top right hand corner. Tee. Hee.]