By JAMES DANIELS JR.
As business owners, we are often inundated with emails, some important, some informational, some we look forward to receiving. And then, there are those we do not want at all.
Because of the unwanted messages, we find it impossible to reach “inbox zero.” This concept created by productivity expert Merlin Mann focuses on inbox management. Those familiar with the concept understand that it is not about keeping your inbox at zero but becoming more efficient by managing the messages in your email inbox by deciding to delete, delegate, respond, defer and do. However, it can be hard to tame the inbox monster. Miscellaneous emails seem to continue to zap all your valuable productivity because you have to wade through the email clutter to get to your business-related mail.
Most email users assume that because the spam folders are being filled, there is no need for additional email management. Although they do capture some email clutter, users continue to receive unsolicited email. Like anything that you want to perform in a specific manner, you have to train it.
You cannot simply just delete the offending email and hope it does not come back; you must report it as spam, using your email clients’ spam reporting option. Most online based emails, such as Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo email have options to report spam or unwanted email. Reporting spam or junk emails train the system to better identify such items, making it easier to detect which emails you do not want to receive. Likewise, for emails that are falsely assigned to the spam/junk mail folder, you can go through your spam and junk mail folders and identify which emails you want to receive. This is as simple as clicking an option to tell the email client this email is not spam or junk.
After performing the aforementioned task and training your spam filter, and you are still getting unwanted emails you might say, “How is this possible?” Well, unfortunately, there are multiple sources that allow spammers to get your email information, such as:
Guessing — They may use an algorithm to generate variations of an email. Using the algorithm, they send the same spam message to every email address generated.
Hacking — Occasionally secure lists are hacked, and details are leaked, including email addresses.
Purchase — Some companies sell lists of email addresses. Often these lists are created when you respond to a free offer.
Scraping — Spammers may use a tool to search the web for email addresses posted online. They then send spam messages to the addresses they have found.
The next layer of defense when these things happen is to create an email filters within your email client to block specific email addresses. In most email clients, you would simply select a message from the sender you want to block and select the option from the drop-down menu that states block sender. This will result in any emails from this sender going to your spam/junk email folder.
One of the final methods of reducing spam and junk mail is to unsubscribe from certain emails. Most solicitation and junk email have the option to unsubscribe; albeit the option is found at the very bottom of the email in very small fine print. Nonetheless, using the unsubscribe link does work; it may take one or two email cycles for emails to stop completely.
An alternative to using unsubscribe link at the bottom of an email, which can be difficult to locate, is to utilize Gmail’s unsubscribe feature button. Gmail detects emails that offer an unsubscribe link and then places an unsubscribe button at the top of the email next to the sender making it easier to unsubscribe to those unwanted emails. The only caveat is that you have to do this for every single email, one by one.
Fortunately, there are third-party applications that will monitor your email inbox and provide a way to batch emails for unsubscribing consideration. Typically, these applications, once given authorization, will monitor your inbox for emails containing unsubscribe options. You can determine if you would like to be notified daily, weekly, or monthly of any potential email clutter in your inbox. Next, you can begin the process of unsubscribing. The best part of the applications is it allows for batch unsubscribing; you can unsubscribe 50 emails at one time if you choose to; a great time saver.
Business owners should have less to worry about then being inundated with unwanted emails. Fortunately, most businesses can reduce the clutter by utilize the built-in features of most email client to filter and block specific emails, identify and report spam emails, and unsubscribing from unwanted emails.
Lastly, remember to employ the techniques listed to assist in the reduction of your overall email clutter.
James Daniels Jr. is faculty advisor and IT instructor at Lindenwood University-Belleville.