Making email work for me

How I compartmentalise my social media use

Afterthoughts: Mythos by Stephen Fry

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Among the chorus of complaints that share the trait of being inter-generational is that email is tiresome and overwhelming. I would have put myself in that camp last year. Since then, however, I have decided to overhaul the way that I use email. It has transformed from something I loathed checking to something I look forward to learning from.

Create a new email

The first thing I did was create a new email address. I spent a couple of days trying to unsubscribe from the junk of my existing email, but it was a battle that I would not win. Especially given how flooded it is, and the unreliability of some sites in validating un-subscription requests. With a clean slate, I moved all my important accounts onto to the new email address. This alone felt like a breath of fresh air. I no longer had to contend with the 90% of junk coming through to find the 10% of emails that needed my attention.

Curate your subscriptions

I use email as primarily a tool for learning. A cool feature of email is that it allows me to curate a flow of emails that was tailored towards learning. I subscribed to the newsletters of my favourite online publications – like Aeon, FiveThirtyEight, and Quillete – and my favourite thinkers. Every email that comes in, I look forward to reading. This is something that I could not say about my emails in the past. This means that the inflow of emails becomes more manageable especially starting from a clean slate, and it is easy enough to prune away subscriptions that are no longer valuable.

Do not delete your old email address

Given that I spent much of my adult life with my old email address, I still look through it every couple of days. Just in case I miss out on forgotten associations I had to that email, when I come across these, I would take the two minutes to switch the association to the new email. I found myself doing this fairly regularly early on, but now, not so much.

Use your old email for unwanted signups

A common tactic for sites is to capture email addresses before they give users what they want. This is what I use my old email address for now, so it does not have to clog up the pipeline of my new one.

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