Do you ever feel like you're swimming in a never-ending sea of information? Like you're tossed to and fro like the ocean's tide from one subject to the next, without any time to process what you just heard before being expected to process the next topic?
I have been feeling exceptionally overwhelmed by information overload. Now, I know there are schools of thought out there that disagree with the idea of information overload, stating common-sense opinions like, "There is no such thing as information overload. If there were, you'd die just by walking into a library." But I do believe if I were to walk into a library and read one paragraph, wait, one sentence of the first 100 books I saw, I really might die from information overload. I surely couldn't process any of it - and if I did process it, I wouldn't retain the information for very long.
Which leads me to my challenge this week. On Monday of this week I woke up to over 100 emails. I understand that many of you receive 100 emails per hour, but for me, 100 emails was WAY too much information for me to sift through and process.
But a funny thing happened when I started the sifting and sorting process. I was keenly aware of how many of those emails I deleted without even reading the subject line. Many of them were regarding online sales, celebrity updates, recipes and creative ideas. But when I honestly assessed the bulk of my email, most of it was junk. Not, that looks interesting, I'll save it junk - but just JUNK. As in throw that mess away!
Monday I simply deleted those emails. I wish I hadn't. I have a vague idea of how many I discarded, somewhere in the vicinity of 70+, but would really like to know the exact number I tossed into the electronic recycle bin.
By Tuesday morning I had created a new folder in my email inbox called "Unsubscribe." Since Tuesday morning every single junk email I have received has been unsubscribed from, and filed in my unsubscribe folder. I know it's silly, the folder, but by the end of the month, I want to see how many I have erased from my information overload arsenal. Plus, I have a funny suspicion that I'm not being totally unsubscribed from a few, as I continue to receive their spam.
Here's what it all looks like: I simply created an Unsubscribe folder as a sub-category of my email inbox.
Once I unsubscribe from an email, I simply wait for the confirmation page, then drag that email into the folder. Currently there are 164 emails that I've unsubscribed from.
How do you unsubscribe? It's usually pretty simple.
1) scroll to the very bottom of the email and find an information block that looks similar to these.
2) find the unsubscribe and click it. Sometimes it says, "manage your preferences." Follow the instructions and either click unsubscribe or submit.
It's generally as easy as that. Sometimes you receive a request asking for a reason. I never give one because there's no nice way to say "get lost, you overwhelm me."
Sometimes you receive a confirmation, sometimes you receive an additional confirmation email.
3.) The reason I save these emails in my new unsubscribe folder is simple: I keep receiving emails from a couple of publications. I have found that each email I receive from them is categorized separately in the unsubscribe function. I have to unsubscribe separately from recipes, from home décor, from organizing, from lifestyle, etc. I like to keep record of what I'm actually being unsubscribed from, just in case I continue to get spammed.
This may seem a little (or a lot) absurd. But oddly enough I've felt an increasing sense of faith in my email account again. When I came into the office and opened my email today I had 64 emails. I only had to unsubscribe from 6 of them. That means, the other emails are legit. That means less time my brain has to process out the junk, less time I have to filter, more time to actually concentrate on the important, the specific, and the next actions.
If you're feeling the effects of information overload, or if you've lost faith in your email account, try this trick. Sometimes too much, is simply too much. You have to pair down or you'll drown. Besides, you can always go back and re-subscribe if you really miss one or two publications. My guess is, you'll be flying free before the end of the week!
Only By His Grace,