The house was dark and still, the first sips of morning coffee sending warmth and delightful sparks of caffeination throughout my body as I curled up on the sofa.
I could have just paused, savoring those quiet moments until the kids woke up and came bounding in, demanding breakfast and cartoons and rescue missions for stuffed animals lost between the sheets. Instead, I opened my laptop, squinting under the harsh glare, and watched as the morning’s emails began loading. 1…2…34567891011…31.
Wow, 31 new emails overnight! I thought, feeling a momentary sense of importance. Then I started scrolling through them. With the exception of one school-related email and one e-bill, they were all advertisements or solicitations from various retailers.
“You can’t miss this deal!”
“HUGE GIANT ENORMOUS SALE, 1 Day Only!”
“You left something in your cart!”
“Tick tock. Extra 30% off clearance won’t last forever.”
“The pants you can’t live without.”
I managed to get through the first few unscathed. After all, I'm a seasoned online shopper and consider myself quite savvy when it comes to marketing hyperbole and gimmicks. I know full well that the store offering an extra 30% off clearance today will be offering an extra 40% off tomorrow, plus free shipping.
But pants I can’t live without? Those I needed to see.
So I clicked. The pants were kind of awesome. They were that sort of hybrid sweatpant/legging/pant that looked as comfy as sweats, but would still be cute for errands, appointments, etc. According to the website, you could even pair them with a blazer! (Never mind the fact that I can't even recall the last time I wore a blazer.)
Although I thought I’d been surviving quite well up until that point, suddenly I began to doubt myself.
How had I lived without these pants?
Could I continue to live without these pants?
I mean, they would definitely improve my life, right?
I would no longer feel that twinge of embarrassment when encountering someone I know at the grocery store because instead of wearing actual sweatpants I’d be wearing secret sweatpants!
I would look put together despite the fact that I didn’t have to zip or button anything in order to get dressed!
What if I hadn’t clicked? Would I still feel like I needed those pants? Let’s go a step further…what if I hadn’t even received that email in the first place?
Would I feel like my life was incomplete without those pants?
Instead I’d be enjoying my coffee, maybe even tasting it for once instead of gulping it down in between stints in the microwave while simultaneously shoving folders and lunch boxes into backpacks.
In my quest to simplify, I’ve become very mindful of what I let into my in-box. Reading and deleting a bunch of junk email every day isn’t only a waste of my time, but it triggers impulse buying and “fear of missing out.”
When I first began unsubscribing I would worry — what if there’s a huge sale at my favorite store, and I miss out on it! Then I realized…that’s the point. Missing out on the biggest, hugest, awesomest sale ever isn’t really missing out. Missing out on peace and quiet and contentedness is.
If there are a few stores you shop at regularly or you’re waiting for a certain item to go on sale, by all means keep them in the rotation. But remember---you can always rejoin an email list at a later date if you’re interested in a certain product so just because you unsubscribe now doesn't mean you can't resubscribe in the future.
Due to the CAN-SPAM act, every marketing email is required to have a clear and obvious way to opt out, and unsubscribe requests need to be honored within 10 business days. When you scroll to the bottom of any marketing email, look for the word “unsubscribe.” In some cases it’s clear as day, but sometimes they try to hide it a little. If you don’t see “unsubscribe” anywhere, look for something that says “email preferences” or “communications preferences.” Some systems will unsubscribe you with one click, and others will take you to a page where you have to reenter your email address. And read carefully--sometimes you have to check a box. Just because a company is required to do something doesn't mean they're going to make it easy.
In addition to eliminating unnecessary emails, I’ve done the same for businesses and/or companies I follow on social media. Often I will “like” a certain store to get a one-time discount, and then I’m suddenly seeing their ads several times a day. It’s worth the time and effort to go through and eliminate some of your “likes” in order to remove all those advertisements taking up space in your brain and your newsfeed.
I encourage you to spend some time unsubscribing and unfollowing. If you don't have a chunk of time to dedicate to it, just do it one email at a time whenever you get something from a company. Not only will it cut down on the clutter in your inbox, but it will eliminate those impulse purchases, and unnecessary drains on your time and energy and money.