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The Mindful Entrepreneur

Instantly Get Rid of Email Overload with this Filter

Categories: Organisation - Simplicity

Email Overload

I’ve written before about how to manage multiple email accounts using a local email client, such as Postbox or Thunderbird, however in that article I didn’t share the best email filter ever to be conceived. Not only is it the best, but it’s also extremely simple. Are you ready for this?…

If [The Email Body] Contains “Unsubscribe” and the start of the Subject isn’t “RE:” then move the email to [OTHER] Folder.

That’s it! Incredibly straight forward, yet it sifts out most of the junk email I receive regularly into another folder, thereby clearing out my Inbox, and at the same time helping diffuse the issue of email “Overload”. I discovered it a few years back through Ari’s Less Doing course.

What is does at it’s core is this;

1) Most junk email will have an “unsuscribe” link within it, so that you can opt-out of future emails. The main reason it’s there is so that you don’t get pissed off, report them to your ISP and reduce the deliverability rate of their email campaigns. If enough people report email as spam, email from that particular sender will start going into spam folders automatically, therefore lowering the read rate and the effectiveness of their email campaign.

The point here however is that 99.9% of the time, you don’t need to read this email – it just takes up your time; so by shifting it to a folder you’ve created labelled “OTHER”, you can peruse it occasionally, and maybe see if there’s anything of interest, but by not having it in your Inbox, you’re left to focus on only the important emails.

2) The “RE:” clause makes sure that you don’t miss seeing any responses where you’ve replied. For instance, you might reply to a “junk” email because you want to take out an offer. If the recipient replies, you obviously want to read that email, so rather than dumping it in the “OTHER” folder (because it has an unsubscribe link), it remains in your Inbox.

It’s a fantastic filter which has saved me many hours of time, especially given the number of inboxes I sift through on a regular basis.

Set-up Instructions


I’m using Outlook 2007 for this example (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – in this case, at least), but the process should be reasonably similar for newer (and older) versions of this popular client.

1. Navigate to TOOLS > RULES & ALERTS

Outlook Rules Option

2. From here, select “New Rule” and Start a Blank Rule with “Check Messages When They Arrive” highlighted, click NEXT to continue

Start a Blank Rule

3. Select the check box next to “with specific words in the body”, then click on the link “with specific words” in the lower window. Here you can enter the word “Unsubscribe” and click ADD to add it to the list. Click OK to confirm this.

Adding the Unsubcribe rule

4. After clicking NEXT, you can now repeat the task, but this time Specify which folder you want the mail to end up in. If you haven’t already created a folder you can do so here, using the CREATE FOLDER button.

Create OTHER folder

5. Click NEXT again. The final part then allows you to exclude email with RE: in the subject line.

Exclude "Regarding" email

6. You’re done! You can now choose a name for the rule (if you so wish). If you want to clear out any crap in your inboxes at the moment you can select “Run this rule now” to sweep through your outstanding items. If you’ve got multiple accounts you can also choose to apply it to all accounts. Finally don’t forget to make sure the “Turn on this rule” check box is ticked before you click FINISH!

Finish your email rule

Now prepare yourself for an email experience with far less clutter than you ever dreamed possible (depending on the scale of your dreams)!


If you’re using my favourite client, Postbox, then the rules are pretty similar to Outlook…


Postbox Filters

  1. Select which email account you wish to apply the filter to, then click NEW…
  2. Give your filter a name and make sur ethe “Match all of the following” radio button is selected.
  3. Add a rule which checks “Body” “Contains” “Unsubscribe, then click the little + button to add another rule.
  4. This rule will be the exception rule, so add “Subject” “Doesn’t contain” “RE:” as shown in the image above.
  5. In the lower area, you can then select to move the message to your desired folder choice.
  6. Once you’re done, click OK, and make sure the ENABLED check box is checked for your new rule. You can now run the rule immediately by clicking “RUN NOW”.
  7. Job done! 🙂

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About the author: I’m the Founder of Own the Web (aka. Mindful Marketeer), & I’m passionate about helping good causes, local & small businesses grow by bringing clarity to situations. I do this through my work at Own the Web, whilst practising mindfulness & blogging about it here. Other quick facts also include I’m a vegan, an individualist, equality champion & a mindful free thinker. Connect with me on Twitter or Peter Leigh on Google+.

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