I have come to realise that the world is divided into two groups – those that have messy inboxes and those that don’t. Sadly, I belong to the former group with thousands of unread, deleted or out-of-date mails sitting there waiting patiently to be dealt with. Thousands. I also have the rather unfortunate habit of subscribing to way too many newsletters that end up annoying me each time they pop into my inbox.
Then there’s the distraction factor – I am VERY easily distracted. I will be 100% focussed on a client deadline, see an email pop up that begins with “She places the soap in the microwave, turns it on high, and voila!” And I’m hooked. Before I know it, I am on page 13 of Google, finding out how to scent handmade soap with the eyelashes of Guatemalan butterflies. Or suddenly feeling a very strong urge to alphabetise my spices. It’s not pretty, people.
As part of my Simpler Life journey, I wanted to make every effort to maximise productivity when I’m at my desk. That meant making a PGUL (Proper Grown Up List) at the beginning of my day, beginning with the hardest task and working my way down to the easiest, and staying focussed on the task at hand. This meant placing my phone on silent while busy with Very Important Tasks, and the dreaded sorting out of my inbox!
Three long and torturous hours later, I found myself banging my head on the keyboard sobbing, “Why?Why? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why can’t this be easier?” I had gone through hundreds and hundreds of mails, unsubscribed from hundreds more, and still had thousands left to go. I had also run out of jelly babies.
And then it hit me. A Simpler Life. Look for a simpler way.
Ten minutes later, I found it – Unroll.Me.
In a nutshell, this FREE app allows you to manage all your email subscriptions at once. You type in your email address and password (there are very strict privacy rules around this, so I wasn’t too concerned) and let it do the work. A couple of magical minutes later, it pulls up a list of every single newsletter to which you have subscribed, and offers you three options – to Roll It Up, Unsubscribe or Keep In Inbox.
The “Roll It Up” option means that once a day, you will get ONE email with all your selected subscriptions – you can then scroll through the highlights and open only those that interest you. I absolutely LOVE this option because all my non-urgent newsletters arrive first thing in the morning, instead of at various points throughout the day. They are also neatly contained in ONE email that I can read at a glance.
I also made very liberal use of the “unsubscribe” button, and used the “Keep In Inbox” option for only those items that I wanted to read as soon as they arrived.
I can honestly say that this has been an incredibly worthwhile exercise. My inbox still needs a good clean out, but I am far more productive during my working hours and less distracted by random emails popping up on my screen!
- Taking stock of my productivity levels was a real eye opener. I discovered that I spent way more time at my desk than necessary, including eating my lunch with one hand while typing/ scrolling with the other.
- Spending 10 minutes at the start of the day creating a reasonable To Do list made an enormous difference. And I do love ticking items off a list!
- Finishing a task without the distractions of emails or my phone saved me another 45 minutes – hour a day. Bonus!