May 1, 2010

Cleaner Email on a Bright May Day

After a series of thunderstorms moved through the area last night, things cleared up, calmed down, and we woke to bright sun this morning.

One of my projects yesterday was to clean up our email. And by "clean up" I don't mean simply to trudge through it all, read it, and decide whether to save or dispose of it. No, I mean to make an effort to eliminate much of it at the source.

Let me explain. Over the past few years a growing amount of email has been automatically dumped into our inbox each day from various sources. Most of it we've agreed to... a daily email with the recipe of the day... a daily digest of the latest Yahoo forum postings... daily reminders from Prevention Magazine to eat healthy... updates on this or that... you get the idea. Well, the volume of this type of email has grown to maybe 20 or more each day. It's gotten to the point that most of the email we get is simply dumped without even looking at the body of the message. And that's kinda' stupid.

So yesterday I found the source for each of those I figured we could do without and turned them off. Even though some sites said it could be a few days before these automatic messages would stop coming through, I can see a dramatic difference already. My intention is to continue to keep the email sent to us as clean as possible. We love getting messages from friends and family with news about what's going on in their lives -- but we can certainly do without the recipe-of-the-day or the digest of the rants of a few individuals on some of the forums I belong to.

Oh, and something else I've found a partial solution to... unwanted forwards, which make up another significant slug of the email we receive. As I said above, we love to hear from people that want to connect with us to deepen the friendship or family ties. But the only time we hear from some people is when they're forwarding emails originated by someone else... email chain letters, political messages, jokes, and other "cute" things that just don't do it for us. The problem with email is that it's too easy for people to just forward this stuff to everyone in their address book -- without thinking about the time it takes to download it and figure out what to do with it all on the receiving end. Additionally, there's the concern that these forwards are harboring viruses and other malware that can screw up a PC in short order.

I won't say specifically what I did to handle these unwanted forwards... only to say that I was able to create a series of "rules" on my email providers server that sends them to a separate online folder that won't be downloaded when I retrieve email... especially important if we're on a slow connection, like here along the Mississippi in Southwest Wisconsin. Occasionally, I'll glance at that online folder to see if the rules trapped anything that I may have wanted.

I'm sorry if I'm upsetting anyone that reads this. But it's how I feel. We'd love to hear from you... but cool it with the forwards and just send a short note that let's us know how things are going with you.

Thom

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