Spring Clean your Inbox and stay on top of your career with these staple sites!

We are 12 years into the 21st Century where new technologies are emerging daily, social media networks are dictating an evolution in the business world and, in approximately five years, my human opinions will be replaced by what my mobile phone esteems to be my preferences.

Scrolling down through my inbox every morning is now a mental assault course – sprint up the 10 ft. wall of relentless social media notifications, climb the bars of blog newsletters, run laps of work-related communications and that is before I read the content of a single email!   With 25% of 2012 behind us, the first weekend in May seems like the ideal occasion to devise the inbox boot camp.

I have to confess that I am an e-newsletter junkie. If left to its own devices, my email inbox could breed 20 newsletters daily, albeit that most newsletters are weekly or bi-weekly. I justify this overwhelming figure by regarding my newsletter addiction as a comprehensive, personalised, relevant news feed which sends me directly to the editorial source of the information I want to know about, need to know about or find interesting. Great in theory, but in practise the result is less impressive. I have gathered a plethora of irrelevant newsletters from cities I don’t live in any more, to career-related sites that no longer relate to my career, to websites where I will never shop.

I am not alone in my fixation, as according to ExactTarget ”Subscribers, Fans, and Followers: The Social Profile,” 94% of daily email users subscribed to marketing messages in 2010. So, if like me, it is time to unsubscribe from some marketing messages but the idea of going beyond good intentions is traumatising, fear not, I have devised a systemic approach to ease the pain of the techy spring clean.

News journalism is assembled according to a broad set of news values which determine the “newsworthiness” of a story and the same principles can also be applied when creating a press release. Could the same newsworthy principles be applied to the email inbox? Let’s experiment.

The conductor of this experiment: The inbox The apparatus: The bacon (the techy term for emails that don’t qualify as spam as once upon a time we signed up to this unrequited relationship). The catalyst: e-values (generation y’s version of news values).   Objective: Help us decipher the emails most worthy of our attention.   Method: Set a 20 minute timer or alarm. Open your inbox and apply the following five questions to the first newsletter you read, and the next and the next, until notified by your alarm. Persistence is the key to success in this experiment.   Conditions for inbox-worthy emails:

1.Impact: Are the contents of the newsletter useful to you today?

2.Proximity: Geographically speaking, does this newsletter concern you?

3.Prominence: Are the people involved famous or prominent in your career industry?

4.Timeliness: The focus of the digital world is on what’s happening this day, this hour, this minute – does this newsletter provide current information?

5.Novelty: We all like to indulge in some deviation…choose wisely! Have you employed this entertainment in the last month?

Results: If you answered yes to all e-values continue to the next newsletter. If you answered more no than yes, open the newsletter and scan for the smallest fine print on the page. Generally the unsubscribe link is at the bottom of the email and indistinct. Click the link and confirm your desire. It’s not the bad break-up you imagined; it’s a clean separation and instantly you feel lighter, even uplifted. Now on to the next…   Conclusion: In 20 minutes I managed to digitally divorce 11 newsletters. Success!   If the e-boot camp is too intense right now and procrastination is your chosen path, I have a solution for you too. Below lists five of my staple sites for “career” related topics. Subscription optional!

1.Mashable  is the largest independent news source dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. You can custom design your newsletter by choosing your subjects of interest, and for me, every newsletter meets the e-news values requirements. http://mashable.com/  

2.The Work Wear Boutique from Shopbop will solve all your office style dilemmas and inspire you to put your best fashion foot forward at work.http://www.shopbop.com/ci/3/lp/workwear.html

3.Grammar Girl is a section from the Quick and Dirty Tips website which provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

4.   Newseum is an interactive museum of news and journalism in Washington D.C. The website has a portal called “Today’s Frontages” which shows 881 front pages from 86 countries worldwide. http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default.asp  

5. Birds on the Blog – This London blog features career advice and breaking women’s-interest news from 11 resident bloggers (aka “the birds”). A favourite because all the ad revenue from the site is used to fund the education of 5-year-old Ugandan twin girls, Princess and Perfect. http://www.birdsontheblog.co.uk/

How many newsletters did you digitally divorce in 20 minutes?   Test the experiment and tweet us at @UrCoffeeBreak and let me know how it went! I would love to hear from you!

– Heidi – xxx