My most important email filter that helps me control my chaos

This short post will introduce you to my most important email filter that I set up more than 8 years ago. It prevents me from being pinged by not relevant emails.

My most important email filter that helps me control my chaos

Despite the existence of more and more alternatives, e-mails remain a staple in our daily lives. And for most of us, our inboxes have become a cluttered mess, filled with countless messages that we never seem to get around to dealing with.

Even I (my friends would count me to the more structured and organized people), sometimes struggle with the amount of emails that I receive. But more than 8 years ago a friend showed me a filter that changed the way I treat my emails. So let me ask you:

have you ever seen the following on the bottom of an email?

Screenshot of a random email from my inbox

You probably have. And I can assure you that it is very likely that more than 50% of your emails include this or similar wording.

Most countries require companies to provide communication recipients with an easy way to opt-out of the communication. Therefore, this counts as one of our rights as individual citizens.

The filter that I am using takes advantage of this legal obligation. It basically applies a specific label/folder to each email containing this kind of wording.

How to set up the filter

Most email providers allow you to set up filters and rules. In this post I'll provide an in-depth example for Gmail and point you to guides to do the same with other mail providers.

If you receive emails in other languages, then you want to use different keywords. Here are some examples. Simply copy and paste the following into the filter:

  • English: (("unsubscribe" OR "stop emails" OR "manage subscription" OR "email preferences"))
  • German: (("abmelden" OR "abbestellen" OR "austragen"))
  • Catalan: (("enlla莽 de baixa" OR "donar-se de baixa" OR "dona't de baixa" OR "cancel路la la subscripci贸" OR "anul路la subscripci贸"))
  • Spanish: (("cancelar suscripci贸n" OR "darse de baja" OR "anular suscripci贸n" OR "configuraci贸n de notificaciones" OR "gestionar las notificaciones" OR "desuscribirte de esta lista"))

If you need to adjust your filter, you can always go into your email provider settings and modify your filter by for example adding more keywords. For Gmail you can follow this guide.

鈫橈笍 Other mail providers (click to show)

*= if you own custom domains and want to stay away from Google, I can highly recommend you Fastmail. Use this link to save 10% during your first year. If you sign up, I'll also get a small discount.

Some mail providers end-2-end encrypt emails once the email reaches their system. This means that their filters won't be able to match for keywords in the content of the email. With those mail providers you cannot use this filter:

  • Protonmail
  • Posteo (if E2E encryption is enabled)

How to work with this filter

Now that you have set up the filter, all incoming emails matching the defined rules will skip the inbox (= you won't receive an active notification for them).

Instead you will see your @Optional folder highlighted in bold with the count of unread messages:

I usually check this folder about once or twice a week to keep up with newsletters, promotions and other kinds of emails that are not important.

As the post title suggests, this filter has been an enormous help in reducing the amount of distractions. I recommend you trying it and perhaps another person comes to your mind who could benefit from this. Help me to spread the word! 馃ぉ

Bonus: More ways how you can deal with your emails

Here are 7 additional tips that help me deal with my emails:

  • Turn off notifications completely: the fewer times we get pinged by our devices, the better for our mental health. If you don't receive important & urgent emails you probably don't need notifications.
  • Say no to newsletters: be mindful what you subscribe to and each time you receive a newsletter, ask yourself: how much value does this give me? Is it good for my mental health? What do I get out of this? How often do I read this content?

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