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Need To Go On An Email Diet? Leave Out The Bacn
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Need to Go on An Email Diet? Leave Out the Bacn

I'm serious!

Whether it's in the realm of food and health or email sanity, you need to cut back on the BACN (bacon).

We all know that high-fat foods combined with a sedentary lifestyle eventually clog up the arteries. And we also all pretty much know what to do about it - less fat, more natural foods and more exercise.

But what about if you're finding your online health and productivity suffering from a clogged email Inbox?

Well, your online productivity doctor orders you to start with cutting back on your BACN (pronounced bacon) ;-).

OK, so what is BACN?

It stands for "email you want, but not right now".

Hmmm, and it is pronounced 'bacon'!

I took a look at one of my email accounts at the beginning of 2013 - and guess what, it was clogged with BACN. You know, all those emails newsletters and lists and updates etc. that I subscribed to - but then promptly forgot about or lost interest in. I estimated that (for me) 85% + of my incoming emails for this account was BACN. And I had alerts turned on - so I was getting 'pinged' every time one of these emails hit my Inbox.

And the awful truth? I was subscribed to over 30 email newsletters, some going back a decade - and guess what - for 20 of them I had not opened a single email from that newsletter or list in over a year. So it was time to go on a diet - a BACN diet.

My email diet

Here are the exact steps I took to begin my journey back to email health (I already had my accounts in Gmail, but this should work on any email platform to a greater or lessor extent:

  1. Set-up rules (filters in Gmail) for each subscription to automatically move the message into its own folder (label in Gmail). This at least gets the email out of the Inbox and into a folder that you can peruse at your own leisure. (This took me a couple of hours to sort out - and wow, my Inbox looked a lot thinner!).
  2. Leave this in place for a month (if you want to wait that long) ... and then go take a look at each of the folders you set up. Have you read any of the newsletters or updates? If you haven't ... and you have more than 12 months of unread emails for that subscription ... you going to have to ask yourself - why? I mean, I know I have this bad habit of 'not wanting to miss out' of subscribing 'just in case', which is something that email marketers obviously love. But really, if I haven't even looked at an email series in more than one year - I think it's time to seriously apply the 'de-cluttering' principle to your email folders. In other words - unsubscribe! (I unsubscribed from 18 of my 30 newsletters - phew!).
  3. (Optional) Turn off your 'alerting' function for each email that hits your Inbox - and discipline yourself to look at your Inbox at max once an hour (but preferably every two hours).

Those three steps put me on the path 'thinning' my Inbox (and all the bad disruptive habits that accompany a bloated email account).

Gmail and other online services are starting to make inroads on making this process easy for people (e.g. the latest release of Gmail now has a series of categories - Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums) that learn from you - and combined with the Priority Inbox feature mitigates the 'obese Inbox'!

But, I still highly recommend taking control of this yourself. I'm about to go on an email diet for another of my email accounts (the biggie) and I encourage you to also do this if you are suffering from too much BACN - follow the steps above as well as taking advantage of the new features in platforms like Gmail.

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