The Case Against Kicking Everyone Out of Your Email Inbox

The Case Against Kicking Everyone Out of Your Email Inbox

If you’ve been an entrepreneur for any time at all, you’ve probably had someone advise you to unsubscribe from all but 2 or 3 people’s email list.

Generally, that’s not terrible advice. And it’s a quick fix for the information overload entrepreneurs are faced with.

But in the end, it’s a gross overreaction.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I spent the week between Christmas and the New Year at my sister’s house cleaning out my email Inbox, which contained (I cannot lie) 150,000 emails.

I’m a confessed email hoarder. (Recovering that is . . .)

And I unsubscribed to A LOT of lists. But I’m still on 20-30, if I had to guess.

Here’s why, and how I’ve been dealing with them each day.

First, there is no other information sharing platform (i.e. social media network) where you’d limit yourself to 2-3 connections. Because you have helpful and/or enjoyable exchanges with far more than 2-3 people.

And when you’re on someone’s email list, you’re getting their best stuff. You don’t have to sift through selfies, what they had for dinner, and a million “look at my cute kid” photos.

Who To Unsubscribe From


Chances are great however, that like me, you should unsubscribe to many, many lists. Anyone whose subject line claimed they were giving me a “Christmas gift” and then offered me a 50% discount on their $997 product — got the boot.

I hate that clickbait style of marketing. Would you offer someone a new phone as a Christmas gift and then say, you can just pay me $400 for it, that’s 50% off what I paid for it?!

Unsub from anyone whose emails don’t feel good,

from anyone who sells in every email without giving any value,

and from anyone who’s giving advice inconsistent with your path.

Think of your email Inbox as a “friends list,” a forum of like-minded people. They support you, teach you, and challenge you to be better.

They don’t all have to be on the same page, but they all should be in the same book. It’s 50 emails telling you to do things 50 different ways that’s causing the information overload.

What to Do With the Leftovers


“But I get too many emails,” I hear you.

You also get too many FB notifications, and Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat . . . yet your vanity (if nothing else) keeps you from reducing the number of connections you have there.

And yes, you are “connected” by email. If you can’t respond to someone’s email through hitting “reply” or through a dedicated email address they give you, give them the boot.

I’ve formed some of my best business relationships through talking back to the people whose email lists I’m on.

Why? Because so few people do it.

You have to figure out how much time a day you’ll devote to your email Inbox. I spend one hour.

Then you have to pay attention. With each email you read, ask yourself, was that worth my time? If the answer is pretty consistently “no”, time to unsub.

And if you haven’t made it through today’s emails by tomorrow, make yourself delete. (Yep, talking to myself here).

Don’t feel like you have to read EVERY email someone sends you to keep them. Some will grab you, some won’t.

The key is just to pay attention to:

Whose name jumps out when you see an email from them?

Who do you get actionable advice from?

Whose emails make you feel good?

Whose emails will you sacrifice 10 minutes of sleep, family time, or social media time to read rather than delete?

Finally, create custom folders and “smart mailboxes” to filter and/or file emails that you do need to keep for some legitimate reason.

Your Email Inbox: The Short Version


Treat your Inbox like a community of like-minded people. Get rid of those who don’t fit in and provide value.

But, you’re missing out if you’re only allowing yourself to connect with 2-3 people by unsubscribing from all other mailing lists. Just don’t feel like you have to read every email someone sends to stay on their list.

Be conscious about whose lists you’re on, and connect with people by responding to their emails.

Set a specific time limit for reading email. Delete any email you can’t make time to read the day you get it.

Hope this helps 🙂 Your thoughts are always welcome!

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