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May 6, 2013

Tired of Spam and Unwanted Email? 4 Steps to Optimize Your Inbox

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Have you ever had more than 1,000 unread emails in your inbox, 95 percent of which you have no interest in opening? Sure, you delete an email here or there, but sifting through them all to make sure you’re not deleting anything you might actually want to read can be daunting, especially when you know you’ll only have hundreds more to sort through in the coming week (or day, in particularly bad cases).

And that’s how the email problem grows, with more and more messages cluttering your inbox until you just want to delete the whole account and start over. But you can’t. Because that email is connected to Amazon, Paypal, eBay, Chase, Groupon, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and deleting it would just cause hassle of a different kind. Not to mention the fact that that email is perhaps the address you’ve established a professional reputation with.

Tired of spam and unwanted emails? Follow these steps and fight email spam efficiently!

I’ve been there, trapped in the vortex of spam and press releases I NEVER SIGNED UP FOR. I felt victorious if I could manage to keep the number of emails in my inbox under 1,000. As for only getting emails I cared about, well, that seemed like fantasy.

But then I decided I’d had enough after momentarily considering switching to a new email account. I stopped in my tracks, realizing that was tantamount to letting the spam win. And I refused to do that.

And thus began my attack on unwanted emails.

The first step, which I’d taken dozens of times before, was to clear out my inbox. This step, however, is an exercise in futility if you’re not going to actually STOP the spam from coming back. So this time, I did things differently.

These four productivity tips helped me take my email account back from the spammers.

4-Pronged Attack on Spam/Unwanted Email

1. Identify a sender who repeatedly sends you unwanted email. Don’t take the lazy way out and just delete their emails. Take the time to open one and UNSUBSCRIBE. After unsubscribing, search your email for that sender’s address. Now, it’s safe to delete everything that populates in your results list. And since you’ve unsubscribed, you shouldn’t be hearing from them again.

2. According to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) passed into law in 2003 under George W. Bush, all commercial emails are required to have an unsubscribe feature.

“While some senders of commercial electronic mail messages provide simple and reliable ways for recipients to reject (or ‘opt-out’ of) receipt of commercial electronic mail from such senders in the future, other senders provide no such ‘opt-out’ mechanism, or refuse to honor the requests of recipients not to receive electronic mail from such senders in the future, or both.” — CAN-SPAM Section 2.9

And yet, despite this law, I found that many of my unwanted emails had no option to opt-out, unsubscribe, cancel or “reject, ” but no matter — I was determined to get off these email lists one way or another. When there is no unsubscribe option, send the following email:

Please take [insertyouremailaddress] off this email list. Thank you!

No need to be rude or angry. This email is short, to the point, and half the time, you get a response with something equally brief, like “Done!” And that is how you successfully rid yourself of one more unwanted email strain. Repeat steps one and two until your inbox is free from spam and unwanted email.

3. Creating folders allows you to easily manage your emails moving forward. This is a best practice when it comes to email, as it keeps your inbox clean to easily deal with incoming mail and not get bogged down in emails you’ve already read but want to save. I, for example, have seven folders within my email: Mom, Friends, Shopping/Coupons, Daily Deals, Work, Writing and Other. If there’s an email I want to keep, it will fit into one of these folders, which I can easily move into folder, keeping my inbox fresh and clean.

4. Once your have your email all sorted out, you certainly don’t want it to revert to its chaotic former self. Stay on top of your inbox by dealing with unwanted email as soon as you see it. If you save it for later, you run the risk of the unwanted emails climbing into the hundreds again. So when unwanted emails crop up, combat them once again with step one and two.

What do you do to combat unwanted email and keep your inbox clean? Tell us in the comments.

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2 responses to “Tired of Spam and Unwanted Email? 4 Steps to Optimize Your Inbox”

  1. SEO Company in India writes:

    That are some great tips Kristi, I have got frustrated with spamming on my email box daily I have to manually delete almost 100-150 emails from my mail box spending 15-20 min daily doing the same. Thanks again for sharing tips to optimize the mail box.

  2. Theodore writes:

    I have had the same email address for 9 years now and I’m drowning in spam. I rarely see an opt-out option, so I will have to sit down some time and try what you said.



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