A couple of weeks ago, I finally took a much-needed vacation, which was my first “real” one since joining Ritholtz Wealth five years ago. When I say “real”, I mean that I completely disconnected from work and refrained from checking my email or internal messages. It was a refreshing mental break for me. Nowadays, I have an excellent team supporting me, capable of handling any client need or question that may arise. I knew that the hardest part would be resisting the temptation to click on the email app on my phone. Thankfully, I was able to avoid it all week.
Since Memorial Day fell on that Monday, my vacation was relatively short. After four business days had passed, I accumulated 204 unread emails. But here’s the kicker: less than 10 of those emails actually required my response. The remaining emails fell into three categories; notifications, newsletters that I subscribe to, and marketing emails. The overwhelming majority of these unimportant emails were marketing emails. In other words, someone trying to sell me something. I had not noticed this before because I regularly check my emails throughout the day, and it takes nanoseconds to delete irrelevant emails. But when faced with a week’s worth of email data, I finally realized I had a problem. If the majority of my emails are irrelevant, those nanoseconds add up to real-time wasted. More than the time to delete the email, it’s the chance for information to creep into my head and distract me and make me lose focus.
For the past week, I’ve adopted a new mantra: Unsubscribe. I have been diligently unsubscribing from any email list that includes marketing content. If the unsubscribe button is not included, I am marking these emails as spam. Because that’s what a marketing email without the option to unsubscribe is; Spam. Email spam is the new physical mailbox spam, except even more intrusive. Hundreds of times a week, I am bombarded with a useless email that takes up precious space in my brain. I know that I’ll never get to zero marketing emails, but I am on a relentless quest to perform this digital cleanse.
There are a few important exceptions to my journey to Unsubscribe. I have been very intentional about signing up for newsletters, substacks, and blog emails of writers I admire and enjoy. Here is a short list of highlights. If you’re curious about their topics, you may choose to opt-in to receive these emails. And I, of course, hope that you consider my emails something worthy of cluttering your inbox.
Abnormal Returns – My colleague Tadas has been scouring the internet to curate the best links in finance, business, and a variety of other topics for over 15 years. Consider this your daily digest of content worth your attention.
The Better Letter from Bob Seawright – I have been blessed to know Bob Seawright in real life, as we say on the interwebs. Few financial writers can effortlessly combine current events and pop culture into cohesive learning opportunities for investors. And only Bob has this unique talent to turn a newsletter into a 3-dimensional multi-media experience with a curation of the best videos and GIFs. You will not only learn how to be a better investor, but you will also learn how to be a better human being by subscribing.
Our Tiny Rebellions – Heather Boneparth has a way of distilling the shared experience of professional mothers of young children into the perfect Friday morning read. I not only relate to but identify with, everything she writes about the challenges of parenting while working full-time in the 21st-century American knowledge economy. It’s 20 minutes of pure joy to read and nod along to each essay.
TKer by Sam Ro – Sam Ro is one of my favorite financial journalists. I love that he has his own substack called TKer (pronounced ticker) about current market events. He has a knack for translating complicated, or esoteric, market jargon into easily digestible reads. Although I am not one who follows individual companies closely, I appreciate getting interesting tidbits from Sam’s weekly newsletter. He has both a paid and unpaid version of TKer.
Time is our scarcest and most valuable resource. Life is too short and precious to waste it deleting spammy emails. Until society moves on to the next form of spam, my advice is, if you don’t love it, unsubscribe. Fingers crossed you stick with me after this one.