Simple Time Saving Tip #62 – Stop Self Inflicted Junk Email

Remember when you first discovered that great website of Inspirational Quotes/Great Deals of The Day/Cat Pictures, etc?  You thought it was the best thing since sliced bread – so you signed up for the newsletter, and for the first couple weeks you loved it! You’d check your email, notice the shiny new newsletter in your inbox and shriek like a little girl seeing Clay Aiken for the first time.  You’d read some cute story about a kid and his dog and forward it to all your friends.

Fast forward 3 months later, and the novelty has worn off.  The cat pictures all look the same to you, you don’t want to buy anymore stuff (and in fact if you’re like me, you are trying to simplify your life by giving away stuff) and yet – you still get that newsletter in your inbox. You click delete and move on to the next email.

Even worse, various websites you have purchased items from have decided it’s ok to send you newsletters filled with “Special Promotions” that you might be interested in. You sigh, and click delete on those as well.

Why? Who is forcing you to receive any of these newsletters?  You are.  Every time you see one in your inbox and waste 3 seconds deleting it, you’re giving them permission to send you another.

So – Why Do We Just Delete Self Inflicted Junk Email Instead of Unsubscribing?

Because we would rather do less work in the moment, even if it is more work in the long term.  Simply put – we’re lazy, but we don’t realize that our laziness is actually causing us more effort.  I discuss this in detail in a previous article, The Curse of the Worst Acceptable Solution.  So how many steps is it really to unsubscribe versus just deleting a newsletter?

Steps required to unsubscribe from newsletters:

  1. Select the email
  2. Click to open the email
    1. Got 10 newsletters? You have to open them all one at a time.
  3. Read each email individually, find the unsubscribe button
    1. Can’t find it? Better look again.  Maybe it’s called “opt out” or maybe it’s “manage your email preferences” or maybe “login to manage your account.”  Maybe there IS no link, and they expect you to find it on the website on your own.
  4. Click “unsubscribe” or “opt out” or maybe “manage your email preferences.” or visit the website if they don’t provide an easy link for access
  5. Enter your email address or login to the website
    1. Oh no, you don’t remember your Login information? Better click “Forgot password.” Wait for that email to arrive (great, now we have twice as much email from this place).  Ok, got it? Login!
  6. Click the unsubscribe button
    1. Wait, I logged in, how do i unsubscribe? Ok let’s see, account preferences, manage email settings…
    2. Multi-newsletter site? Great, now I have to find the checkbox that’s checked, uncheck it to unsubscribe first, THEN I can unsubscribe
    3. Click the confirm unsubscribe button.  Really? You don’t think I’m sure I want to unsubscribe?  Yes, confirm!!  Congratulations, one newsletter down. Only 9 more to go.

Steps required to delete newsletters:

  1. Select email
    1. Got 10 newsletters? Select all of them at once!
  2. Push delete – all 10 newsletters are deleted!

No wonder we would rather just delete those newsletters! It’s so much effort to unsubscribe, and we get instant gratification from just deleting them. This is a bad habit, though, as just deleting them and never unsubscribing is going to result in you getting those email newsletters eternally. And at some point, perhaps after deleting 10 of them, it would have been less work if you had just unsubcribed months ago! Want to stop this vicious cycle? Here’s how.

The Sid Self Inflicted Junk Email Solution – Create a Self Inflicted Junk Email Folder

I never delete my self inflicted junk email – ever.  The positive reinforcement I get from deleting emails and clearing my inbox works against me in this particular situation, so I had to modify my behavior, but still give myself positive reinforcement for clearing those newsletters out of my inbox.

Rather than deleting them, I have a folder called ” – Self Inflicted Junk” (the hyphen is so it shows up at the top of my list of folders). Whenever I get something that I don’t read, whether I signed up for it or not, I resist the urge to delete – and just file it in that folder. Or if I do open it, and find that it is not longer relevant to me, I still don’t delete it – I file it in Self Inflicted Junk too.  Make no mistake about it – those newsletters that you didn’t sign up for, but get from merchants where you purchased stuff, those are self inflicted as well. The first one you get is their fault – each one you get after that though, it’s your fault for passively giving them permission to keep spamming you.

So now that I’ve got this wonderful digital pile of junk email, I’ll open that folder every few weeks and be amazed at just how much unnecessary junk email I’ve been filing away in there.  I sort them by title and/or sender, and unsubscribe from every list before I delete all the emails from that website. It might take me 15 minutes or half an hour, and at the end of it, I’ll never receive those newsletters ever again.

Bonus Tip – What About My Friends Who Keep Forwarding Me Junk?

We can’t unsubscribe from friends, but we can educate them on proper email etiquette.  Rather than writing an email yourself about it, and risk hurting their feelings personally, just head over to StopForwarding.Us, where you can politely (and most important – anonymously!) have your friend contacted and taught that they shouldn’t be sending you that junk anymore.

Want Some Self Inflicted Positive Email? Sign Up For

Now that you know the solution to ridding yourself of newsletters you no longer read, and have maybe alienated some friends, you’re going to have a lot of empty space in your inbox.  Why not sign up for free updates on, so you don’t have to keep coming back here to check if I’ve written a new article?

It’s free, fast, and I never spam.  I write an average of once or twice a week, and it’s easy to unsubscribe – I include a link at the bottom of every email to make unsubscribing as painless as possible.  Go ahead, and while you’re at it create a Self Inflicted Junk folder – make me earn the right to have my newsletters delivered to you.

Free Updates by Email Free Updates by RSS (What is RSS?)