Day One, One Done

by Dan

1st May 2012. “Day 1”, if you will. The first Daily Act of Simplification is done.


Today’s target is emails. I have nothing against emails in general, I could go so far as to say that I LOVE emails, but I do get a lot that are of no benefit to me at all. At work I’m not too bad, whilst I do get a lot of email, great spam filters and a clearly defined role mean that I’m not bombarded with too much noise. It’s my personal ones that really need a trim.

I have had this particular sports-gear vendor in my sights for a while now, and on looking through my deleted emails I noticed they there were sending me not one, but TWO emails a day. General marketing, nothing exciting, I had bought from them once and have been getting these emails ever since. So I invested less than one minute of my time, hit the “unsubscribe” button and I will now enjoy a permanent benefit of two fewer emails per day, or looking at it another way, that’s 730 fewer emails per year! So, with those numbers, I am feeling pretty good about myself. We’re off to a good start.

However, as good as 730 fewer emails a year sounds, I think the benefits will materialise and compound in some interesting ways. After the first few days of receiving these emails, I didn’t really read them, I’d just delete them without a glance. So I’m not really saving 730 emails of reading time, I’m saving 730 emails deleting time. Deleting is a fairly quick process. Oh no, has the shine come off of today’s achievement?! I don’t think so, there is more. When an email comes in, I get a notification on my iPad, or phone. Now, I am a bit compulsive when it comes to emails, I want to know what they are (they might be important or exciting!) and I want them dealt with ASAP. I HATE having a stock of emails to work through. Often when a notification comes in, I am out and about, mobile technology in hand, so I click the app icon to see what the email is. Often signal is poor, or indeed there is no internet connection at all, and this can take a serious amount of time, often resulting in giving up and trying again later. To me, THIS is the main benefit of email reduction. Fewer emails, means fewer email notifications, which means less need to connect, download, read, delete etc. In areas of poor signal this will mean a lot less stress (my wife will tell you that I recently came close to throwing my mobile phone into the deepest loch I could find whilst on holiday in Scotland!). Even at home, this process highlights the intermittent deficiencies in my WiFi system, another source of periodic annoyance.

So to me this investment of less than one minute of my time means 730 fewer opportunities to get annoyed each year, 730 fewer times that my poor old HTC Desire S comes close to being used as a skimming stone, and 730 fewer emails to deal with. Tremendous. Bring on Day 2!