An email purge, and GDPR

March 20, 2018

I think there are two kinds of people; there are those who organise their emails the instant they land in their inbox, moving them into folders, marking up what's important, starring the things they need to come back to, and deleting the chaff - and then there are people like me, who drive their very organised partner insane by racking up over 19,000 unread emails on their iPhone, where four different accounts crash into one inbox. 

 

 

 

I, like so many others, started out with good intentions - the four different email addresses were relevant to four different roles I was balancing, in four different environments, so it made sense to keep them separate - and then as all the work I do was brought under the 'Eliza Do Lots' banner (can you see what I did there?) the other addresses remained in use for the many things I'd subscribed to, or accounts I needed to access, and organising them was pretty far down my to-do list; all those folders I'd carefully managed began to slide, and what had been a five minute job a couple of times a day became an hour long job once a week, then a day long job once a month, then a job I just ignored because it got so enormous, and who has time to organise literally thousands of emails?

 

This week I'm going to be attending a talk on how to organise my inbox - among other things - and in preparation for that, and as part of my GDPR research, I've been poking through those accounts, seeing who has my information, who no longer needs it, and what I can unsubscribe from (I don't need three emails a day reminding me that there's a sale on an item I purchased as a one-off, four years ago, and will never need again, or from Dominoes telling me that I can get two pizzas for the price of one today, when I'm supposed to be on a diet...) 

 

I've already unsubscribed from around 100 companies who include me in their mailing lists, because whenever we buy anything online we have to register - and for many years it was ok for companies to automatically sign you up to things and tick those little permission boxes on your behalf, and then a great many of them sold those details on to other, third party companies who would also add you to their mailing lists, whether you'd asked to be or not. 

 

You can see how my multiple email inboxes became so full when you consider how many unsolicited emails and third party company mail shots I was receiving every day - and one thing I know the GDPR are aiming to prevent is this unwanted contact, and signing people up to mailing lists without their permission. 

 

If you have lists that you contact for your business, it's important that you make sure you have a valid reason to be contacting those people and have their permission to do so - if you use a programme like Mailchimp to send your mailshots you are almost certainly going to be within the new guidelines, no matter how much scare talk about fines you've seen online - and as long as your mailings include the option to unsubscribe and be removed from lists (which Mailchimp and most similar platforms automatically do!) you'll avoid getting into trouble.

 

If you store those contact details anywhere else, not much changes; you need a valid reason  to have someone's contact information, and to ensure that people outside of your organisation can't access that information - and you need to keep paper data in a locked cabinet, IT data password protected, and - for small businesses and freelancers - that's essentially it. Take a look at the Information Commissioner's Office website for more detailed information - and don't let the scare tactics worry you into paying for guides or downloadables that just rehash this freely available information! 

 

Which camp do you fall into? Are you an avid email organiser, or an overwhelmed inbox hoarder? What are your top tips for keeping on top of the influx?

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