Like so much of my day-to-day life, lately my email has spun out of control. I used to love to come home from work and check my email to see what funny stories my friends where sharing, or to get caught up in virtual time with a college or high school friend. But about two or three months ago, I realized that I wasn't doing to much of that anymore.
When I'd come home from work, I'd check my email, and watch as one of 36 or 40 emails would download into my in bin. One by one, I'd watch as the little envelope graphic floated through mid-air, and mail would be collected out of cyberspace. Sadly, after all the downloads were complete, I'd look and realize that most of the mail was nothing more than sale fliers from the stores I've shopped with online, or an occasional newsletter from HGTV or Real Simple magazine. Real Simple is the pretty ironic one -- because for all their strategies to "simplify" they've really managed to muck up my mailbox!!
Truthfully, I was receiving so much junk mail from stores, that half the time I wouldn't even bother going through my mail at all. I would let the junk email pile up in my inbox the same way that it piles up on my kitchen counter. It was so frustrating to me to try to sort through all the newsletters and ads, that sometimes the "real" mail from family and friends would get lost in the shuffle.
Well - I've made a bold move to gain back control of my inbox, and I'm trying to use modern technology to make my life easier -- and I have to tell you, it's very freeing. I've unsubscribed from all but the handful of email newsletters that I actually enjoy reading -- and decided to put Twitter to work for me, by following those merchants and websites that I'm interested in following. According to all of the "unsubscribe" message confirmations that I've received, it's going to take a week to ten days for all the changes in subscriptions to take effect, but hopefully before long, my inbox will be mine again! I'll let you know if I see a noticeable change (though something tells me that it is going to be an ongoing battle to keep my inbox in control).
Admittedly, Twitter can be a little bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty cool. Tweetdeck has been a real help for me in trying to sort through it all. I can organize the people/merchants/websites that I'm following by topic, and quickly scan the latest sales, news, magazines, school information, celebrity gossip, etc. to see what's what. No more need to open a zillion emails, delete, save, purge, mark as junk. I log on when I want, see what I want, log off and it manages itself -- and best of all, my mailbox will be mine again! Not too bad.
There's definitely a risk in what I'm doing -- not everyone has gotten on board with a social media strategy yet, and I'm not on Twitter 24/7, so I might miss a sale or two -- but you know what? That's OK -- no puppies are going to die if I miss out on free shipping from Sports Authority (I seldom shop online with them anyway!).
In this age of information overload, technology can be a mixed blessing. Information is constantly at our fingertips -- whether through your iPhone or Blackberry, Facebook, Twitter, email or the Internet -- information is coming at us all day, every day.
In my constant effort to make life more manageable, I'd be really interested to know what are you doing to take control of the information overload monster?