We’ve all played the office email version of Whack-a-Mole, archiving endless “reply all” threads as they pop up again and again in our inbox.
When should we schedule the Friday meeting? Is the office closed on Monday or what? Did everyone see this article? And whose watch was left in the lobby?
“It sucks when you’re stuck on an email thread of declining relevance,” writes Jocelyn K. Glei in “Unsubscribe: How to kill email anxiety, avoid distractions, and get real work done.” “You have nothing to add, but you can’t escape.”
Maybe you can.
Glei writes that escape is possible. The “most elegant” way to get these threads out of your inbox, she suggests, “is to indicate that everyone is doing such a great job talking amongst themselves that you are now superfluous.” She provides this script:
“Looks like you guys have taken the reins on this conversation! Would you mind moving me to ‘bcc’ so that I can bow out?”
That’s an email for the group. But if you have a close ally or friend on the chain, Glei writes, you can reply to them alone with “a more honest message.” Like so:
“Sean — Would you mind moving me to ‘bcc’ when you respond? I’m waging war on inbox clutter this week. ;)”
And if you just can’t manage to bow out gracefully, she writes, Gmail users (sorry, everyone else) have another option: the mute button.
You’ll find it under the “More” menu in once you open a message from your inbox, and using it means the thread is automatically archived. The thread is in your email and still searchable, but not taking up inbox space. “This function also works well for hiding forum threads gone wild and other automatic notifications that contribute to inbox clutter,” Glei writes.
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