Pillbox

Advice for Awkward People

**Hey Ruth,
I have an email problem. Or, this university has an email problem. It sends way too much.
Some of the d-lists I’m on are totally my fault — I signed up for way too many things as a way of getting snacks at the activities fair. But there are a whole bunch of others that I was put on automatically and never send me anything useful! Or when they do send something I want to read (or a professor emails me something really important) it gets lost in the flood of messages. What am I supposed to do? I keep missing things, and I’ve got hundreds of unread emails in my inbox.

Help,
Exposed My Andrew ID. It’s Ludicrous!**

Dear EMAIL,
I used to take an annoyingly large amount of pride in the organization of my email, mostly because all of my friends had a thousand plus unread emails. Then I came to Carnegie Mellon University.

My inbox is organized no longer. Or, it wasn’t for a pretty long time. Then I figured out some rules for making my email situation easier to handle.
First of all, to anyone who’s ever thought about hitting “reply all” in a d-list — don’t. Please, please don’t. Unless you have a really good reason or you want everyone on that list to hate you, just don’t do it. Use “reply” instead. It’s right there and will send your email to exactly the person you want it to and no one else!

So, the good news is that you can absolutely remove yourself from student organization d-lists. Usually there’s an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email, and it’s a tiny bit of a hassle because you’ll probably have to log into your Andrew ID to confirm the choice to unsubscribe, but then you’ll never get emails from there ever again. Sometimes there isn’t a link, but in that case you can usually go on The Bridge and do the same thing there.

The bad news is that you can’t unsubscribe from college, school, or university wide d-lists. You also probably don’t actually want to, as much as you might scream whenever you get three separate emails about a lecture series. Occasionally, information you actually want is sent out via those groups, so the real answer is that you’re going to need to develop some kind of system. (Well.... unless you don’t mind having a plethora of emails sitting in your inbox, but you specifically expressed that you didn’t want that.)

The typical rules are to delete what you don’t need and star what’s important. The trick is working the time into your routine. I’d recommend clearing out your email either during breakfast or after dinner, but how often depends on you and what number of emails you find overwhelming. I know someone who would read her emails as they came in throughout the week, and then Sunday evenings she’d sit down, re-read, and delete everything that wasn’t relevant anymore. That way she’d be reminded of things before the week started up again, just in case she forgot.

That never really worked for me, so I just star important things as they come in and delete whenever I’m standing around somewhere and I’m really bored or am feeling socially awkward and want people to think I have something to do on my phone. (This is where having your Andrew email in a Gmail app is really useful.) The most important thing is that you check your email regularly in a way that works for you.

Just don’t “reply all”,
Ruth