Last year I went through a big process of removing distractions and noise from my life in many different areas. One of these was my email inbox where I unsubscribed from a series of newsletters that I found I wasn’t really valuing or were just trying to sell me something all the time.
However, I still kept some newsletters in my email list as I found their content to be high value and interesting and didn’t mind the occasional attempt to get me to buy something they were selling. At the same time I found there was a bit of a disconnect between using my inbox to go through different pieces to read and messages which I should act on. What I really wanted was to put my newsletter subscriptions out of the way till I wanted to read them (and perhaps miss out occasionally on a special offer) and keep my inbox clean.
Of course, there are some smart email services which will do this automagically, however if you use a read-it-later service, you can easily hack together a great solution which gains the value of being part of a newsletter while keeping your inbox nice and tidy and only occupied by messages you should respond to…and LinkedIn requests.
How to Use a Read-It-Later Service for Newsletters
When you sign up for an Instapaper or Pocket account, you can get an email address which you can send items to. This is really useful to send good articles which you want to read later on the ad hoc basis. However, you can also use it when you subscribe to a newsletter. This way the article will never even enter your inbox and instead you can quickly choose whether to read, archive, or delete a news article when you go through your read it later service.
There are some downsides. For example, if you check your read it later service only once a week or rarer, then you might miss out on a special offer that you might have seen had it entered your inbox. However, there is a slightly more complicated solution to that issue involving filtering rules.
Use Email Filters to Keep the Urgent in Your Inbox
If you use Gmail or Apple Mail (as well as a host of other services), you can set up some mail filtering rules so that certain emails will be forwarded and others won’t. For example, let’s say you wanted to make the ChurchMag weekly newsletter go to your Instapaper or Pocket queue, but you want the ChurchMag special offers to go straight into your inbox.
Create a rule so that when the sender ([email protected] that’s right I’m sending them at the moment) sends you an email including a trigger word (“weekly email”) then it will get forwarded to your Instapaper/Pocket/Evernote email account.
For Gmail, just go into your settings and click on filters. For Apple mail, go into preferences, click on rules and then add rule. Be careful! getting a “and” mixed up with an “or” can have a big impact on your inbox so take your time.
Clean Inbox = Happy You
So there you have it, a simple way to make great use of a read it later service to keep your inbox cleaner. Of course, you are replacing reading these newsletters in one place to another place and if you have hundreds of subscriptions, you may still feel overwhelmed. At the same time, this can help you dial down the noise a bit, and I enjoy reading newsletter more now that they are out of my inbox.