the joy of de-cluttering my inbox

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In hopes of de-clutter my inbox, I started evaluating emails that bring me “joy” versus emails that “interrupt / disrupt” my day.

Most promotional emails from retailers and brands did not bring me “joy.” To de-clutter my inbox, I unsubscribed from

  • various retailers (Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Wayfair, Nordstroms, Wholefoods, Walgreens, etc.)
  • electronic brands (Bose, Philips, etc) make-up and fashion brands (Kiko Milano, Estee Lauder, Madewell, Sephora, Ulta, Clarisonic, etc.)
  • various event organizers (TicketMasters, NYC Events, etc.)

During this process, I noticed that these promotional emails are very effective in making me open and consider products that I didn’t know that I needed.

Instead of relying on retailer’s promotional emails to trigger me to shop, I’ve been more “intentional” with my online browsing. No more cyber window shopping just because, but visiting sites only when I have something that I really need to purchase. I’m happy to report that this small change in behavior is paying off big time.

I was surprised that I had no problem unsubscribing from book retailers, such as Strand Book Store, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Book retailers have a special place in my heart, but most of the times, these emails recommended irrelevant books, which became really annoying.

I also unsubscribed from my undergraduate and graduate schools. Although I wanted to attend seminars and lectures they host, I could never make it. And on top of it, opening these emails promote that nagging “I should go, but I can’t” feeling, which wasn’t worth it.

I kept most of my emails from various publishers, including the Medium, Longreads, New York Times, HBR, Allure, Byrdie, Refinery29,Retail Dive, etc, but changed the frequently of their emails from daily to weekly. The information they provide are useful, but it was overwhelming to receive them daily.


I didn’t have a high-tech way of addressing my email situation. Instead, I unsubscribed from various emails one by one as I received them. Also, if you use gmail, google has a convenient “unsubscribe” link next to promotional emails, which you can click on to unsubscribe.

The downside was that it was time intensive. The upside was that it forced me to evaluate the value of each email and it felt somewhat cathartic to hit that unsubscribe button.

I don’t think I’m where I want to be in terms of organizing emails — I still want to tackle labeling (because gmail’s search function sucks) and archiving (because I’m still unsure if I should archive vs. delete vs. label).

Are you also struggling from email clutter? What are your tips and tricks to manage your email?

Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

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