Email Newsletters: Time Wasters or Valuable Information Sources?

Newsletters seem to take up an incredible amount of space in my inbox. There are some I just can’t bring myself to unsubscribe from, even though I can’t remember the last time I got anything useful out of them. The fear of missing something important is just too great.

In order to help me reduce the amount of rubbish in my inbox and to reduce the time I waste on reading messages “just in case”, I’ve decided to record various statistics about the newsletters I’m subscribed to. I’m then going to analyze the results and see if I can devise a more effective newsletter subscription policy.

I don’t quite know what to measure — this is what I’ll be tracking to start with:

  • How long does each newsletter take to read? If I am tempted to click on any links, I’m going to include the time taken to read those web pages too.
  • Does it help me get my work done or do it better? If not, does it at least provide information that will probably help in the near future?
  • Is it interesting? Is there at least one tidbit of interesting information in it? If I click on a link — it’s a fair sign that it caught my interest.

I’m going to keep this up for a week, and report back here with my findings.


6 responses to “Email Newsletters: Time Wasters or Valuable Information Sources?

  1. One thing that works for me is to check if I remember some good thing I learnt or found in a newsletter. If nothing comes to my mind, I just unsubscribe.

    A tip from Adam Boettiger is to schedule the reading of newsletters on a specific day.

    Another suggestion is to assign a number of newsletters one decides to follow.

  2. There is even a more potentially damaging addiction out there: blogs and news feeds. We hardly ever stop to think about the amount of time it takes for us just to scan the headings. I periodically just have to do a very drastic cutting down of all the garbage I always manage to accumulate in my news aggregator.

    I know it’s slightly off topic, but I think it’s just a different facet of the same phenomenon. It’s just the medium that changes.

    Itzy–thanks for the most valuable personal productivity blog.

  3. I have subscribed to a few and I must say they are just a time waster. Sometimes they are interesting but still a time waster the same..


  4. Measuring and noting the value of subscriptions is a great idea. To get even more from the exercise assign a 1-5 score as to the value. 5=I will change what I do because of this and I expect it to be very valuable, 1=My that’s nice to know and kind of interesting. Make your own scale. The point is that getting “one nice to know” bit of information is not enough reason to continue a subscription.

  5. Do you know any technique to increase email productivity.


  6. I’m a busy professional, what i did to eliminate rubbish emails is to set up true email inbox management that’s eyes-free and hands-free, I can manage my inbox even when im driving. I’ve known these smartphone app called Talkler —billed as “email for your ears.” Talkler is a free smartphone app that’s voice-controlled, and reads your emails aloud to you. There’s more at Cheers.

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