Your Email Inbox is an Eyesore

Digital Cleanse Day 22:

Your Email Inbox is an Eyesore

Confession time … how many emails are in your inbox? Be honest. At least with yourself. 

Today, I have 289 items. That’s on the high-side for me. I’m not too worried but I must admit it stresses me out a little. I won’t let those messages hang around for long. By comparison, my husband has just 12 items and an friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) has more than 75,000. How does your inbox compare? 

Email overload is a huge problem. And it’s hard to control. Spam is a problem even with an excellent spam filter. Then there’s any email you’ve subscribed too. Plus all the group emails with the {shudder} reply all phenomenon. And the social media notifications. Let alone the legitimate emails from individuals.

To deal with the mess, I combined my own digital cleanse quest with strategies learned from Steve Dotto plus my interpretation of email bankruptcy. Each time I open my email I do the following things:

  1. Delete spam. I don’t pause to read anything legitimate. I’m on a mission to clear the junk mail that the spam filters missed.
  2. Next, I look at messages from my VIPs. I’ve curated a list of a twenty or so people that get top priority. Any message from them gets automatically filtered into in my VIP inbox.  Some are family (Hi, Dad!) or family related (my son’s school) while others are people I collaborate with frequently.
    • I read each email to absorb the information in it.
    • Then, I take action, if necessary. Reply. Schedule time to reply. Do whatever’s requested and report back. Or whatever’s appropriate.
    • Lastly, I delete or archive each email. (We’ll talk more about archive in a minute.)
  3. Next, I look for anything I need to download and get it started on the download. For me, that’s usually new episodes of my favourite TV shows. Grey’s Anatomy, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, Castle and The Big Bang Theory are my current top five. Once the download is in progress, I delete the message.
  4. While my downloads are, um, downloading, I read any remaining emails from individuals using the same three steps I use for my VIP messages. Read.  Take action. Archive or delete.
  5. Finally, time permitting, I read any email newsletters, social media notifications, Kickstarter updates or whatever else is leftover.

As part my digital cleanse, I deal with email during two or three set times each day. My first check usually happens while I enjoy my morning cup of tea. And then I check again after lunch. If I’ve got lots of “to read” messages leftover from step five, I’ll add an evening email reading session, too.  I’m also clear on my response times. This gives my work a healthy sense of urgency without a trace of panic.

I also do a bit of weekly email maintenance. I review my inbox for missed messages from VIP senders. I also delete or archive anything that was overlooked during the week. It’s also a time to reflect on my current subscriptions. If I’m several issues behind on a particular email newsletter, I unsubscribe. I also look for email notifications from social networks. In general, I have turned off notifications but those sneaky programmers often turn on new ones that set to send by default.

Email folders listOne my biggest takeaways from Steve Dotto’s Three Steps to Inbox Zero course was the notion of a single, searchable archive. Having used email regularly since 1993, I was in the old-school habit of creating nested folders for all my archived messages.  As per Steve’s advice, I now use a a single folder to archive any email I need to keep. In two years, I’ve archived just 2,934 messages. It’s amazing what you don’t need to keep. And wonderfully easy when you can search that single archive, as needed.

My next big step is to embrace the concept of email bankruptcy. I first learned this concept from Howard Jang, now Professor of Professional Practice at Simon Fraser University. While on vacation, Howard sets a friendly but firm out-of-office auto-reply. Something along the lines of “I’m on vacation until April 22, 2018. When I get back I’ll be deleting all messages in my inbox. If you need to reach me, please resend your message on or after April 23.” Brilliant!

I’ve also heard of people using January 1st as email bankruptcy day. They start the new year with an empty inbox. Friends and colleagues learn that anything unresolved from the previous year has to be resent if it’s still relevant. So often it’s no longer relevant!  I haven’t had the courage to do a full delete but I have done a couple trial runs by deleting the majority of messages from an over-run reply all thread.  So far, I haven’t missed anything important.

To make email work for you, you’ve got to have a system. You’re welcome to use mine as a starting point. I encourage you to adapt it to your work style.

More on the 30 day #digitalcleanse tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

(If you missed yesterday’s installment, take a couple extra minutes to explore Say No. Just No. Practice. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.)


Delete Unused Facebook Groups

Digital Cleanse Day 18:

Delete Unused Facebook Groups

Do you know how to delete unused Facebook groups? Its a handy skill if you, like me, have some old groups lingering on your profile.

Facebook groups are a great tool for connecting with people with common interests. There are three kinds of groups public, private and secret. Public groups are visible to anyone on Facebook including the posts and member list. In private groups, the member list is visible to all Facebook users but the posts with the group are for group members only.  Both public and private groups turn up in search. Secret groups are hidden. Only members can see the membership list and posts. Secret groups do not show up in search.

You’ve Been Added to a Group

Many people are frustrated because any Facebook friend can add you to a group. This is fine if you’re interested in the topic. Unfortunately, a lot of “added to group” moments feel like a full case of spam just arrived on your doorstep.

Groups You’re In

If you are a member of a group that no longer interests you, you can leave the group. To leave, do this:

  1. Go to the home page for the group.
  2. Hover over the “Joined” button.
  3. Click “Leave Group” from the drop-down menu.
    Hover over Joined then click leave group
  4. A pop-up will ask you if you want to leave the group.
  5. If you are sure, click “Leave Group”

Pop up - do you want to leave group?

That’s it. You’re outta there! Phew!

Groups You Manage

If you are a group admin, leaving is a slightly more complicated process. To leave, do this:

  1. Go to the home page for the group.
  2. Hover over the “Joined” button.
  3. Click “Leave Group” from the drop-down menu.
  4.  A pop-up will ask you if you want to give up your admin privileges and leave the group.
    TIP: You have the option to assign another admin before you leave the group. See below.
  5. If you are sure, click “Leave Group”

Pop-up - give up admin and leave group?

To Assign a New Admin

In a Facebook group, you can assign a new admin for a group:

  1. Go to the members list.
  2. Find the member(s) you wish to make admin.
  3. Click the gear icon.
  4. Click “Make Admin” on the drop-down menu.
    Make admin
  5. A pop-up will ask for confirmation.
  6. If you are sure, click “Make Admin”.
    Pop-up Add group admin

To Close a Facebook Group

If you are the admin for a Facebook group, you can delete the group. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the member list.
  2. Click on the gear icon for one member.
  3. Click “Remove from Group”.
    Day 18 remove from group
  4. A pop-up will appear asking if you are sure. Click “Confirm”.
    Day 18 remove from group2
  5. Repeat steps 2 – 4 for each group member.
  6. When only the admin (that’s you) remains, go to the group’s home page.
  7. Hover over “Joined”.
  8. Click “Leave Group” from the drop-down menu.
  9. A pop-up appears to confirm you want to leave and delete the group.
    Day 18 last admin leaves and deletes the group
  10. If you’re sure, click “leave and delete”.
    Note: All group posts will also be deleted.

Done and Done

That’s it you’re done. Lather, rinse and repeat for each surplus group you belong to or admin. And enjoy a little less clutter when you next log-in to Facebook.

More on the 30 day #digitalcleanse tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

(If you missed yesterday’s installment, take a couple extra minutes to explore Don’t Walk and Text. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.)


How Many Social Networks?

Digital Cleanse Day 3:
How Many Social Networks?

social networks, pins for WordPress, Foursquare, Twitter, Social Media Camp, Northern VoiceHow many social networks do you belong to? Last time I checked, I had about 450 accounts. Now, I am decidedly ABOVE average as most of my accounts were created for research purposes. Mashable’s research finds that the typical social media consumer has two accounts. If you’re doing a digital cleanse, I suspect you are also above average.

A digital cleanse is a good time to revisit your social networks. Think about each account and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I use this social network all the time?
  • Do my friends/colleagues use this network?
  • Do I use this social network at home?
  • Do I use this social network for work?
  • Do I create content suitable to share on this network?
  • Do I know how to use this account?
  • Is this account for a current project?
  • Does this account amuse me when I’m bored?
  • Does the network still exist?

If you answered no to any of those questions, it might be time to break up with one or more social networks.

Before you delete, deactivate or close your account, consider whether or not it’s important to you (or your business) to keep control of your name. (I’m aware of 21 other Angela Crockers who use social media. Maybe you have doppelgängers, too?) Also, consider that you may need to keep select accounts as the log-in for other purposes. For example, don’t delete your Facebook profile if you manage any Facebook pages or groups.

When you’re 100% ready to break up with a social network, proceed with the delete, deactivate or close procedure for that network. Generally, you’ll find the appropriate link on your profile page. It will likely be tricky to find. The social networks don’t want you to leave the party. It’s ok if you’re ready to leave! In some cases, there is a waiting period before your account is fully closed. Those social networks give you an out in case you change your mind. An oops is possible if you’re digital cleanse ritual includes a nice Pinot Grigio!

More on the 30 day #digitalcleanse tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

(If you missed yesterday’s installment, take a couple extra minutes to explore Turn Off Notifications. For links to the complete Digital Cleanse series, click here.)