Clearing the clutter, or how SpamSieve saved my sanity

by Jason on October 8, 2014 · 0 comments

Hey, wanna know why I haven’t been posting for the past two years?

Sure, I’ve been writing elsewhere, but mostly, I’ve been busy.

Busy deleting spam.

Here’s the thing: I’ve had my primary email address for over 13 years now. It’s gotten on just about every list you can imagine, and by “every list” I mean every fricking spammer database there is, and there’s no getting off of those. (I’m searching my brain for a movie reference that fits but all I can come up with is Michael Corleone saying “just when I thought I was out they pulled me back in” but why would I ever think I was out of a spam list?)

I turned on Spam Assassin at my web host a while ago, which helped a bit. And I’m a Mac guy, and there’s supposed to be a junk mail filter in the mail app, which I can see caught some of the mails, but a lot got through, and I dutifully marked each one as spam to help train the filter. (Or when I was out and about, I frantically deleted spam every hour or so before they piled up too much, even though I knew that probably hurt the filter’s training, but seriously, things got crazy if I didn’t keep on top of them.)

Clearing spam had almost become my job, but I didn’t really realize it, because it was just this thing I did, you know?

Then I saw a post by Brent Simmons about how he switched to SpamSieve.  Hmm, 30 day trial, why not?

It took 3 days for another spam message to show up in my inbox. Sure, there were some false positives, mostly automated mails from systems I use, but I figure over the course of a month I’ll have those all whitelisted.

According to SpamSieve’s statistics, I get around 444 spam messages a day. Let’s be generous and say that Apple Mail caught 3/4 of them. I still had to go and manually review and flag/delete over a hundred mails a day just to make email usable.

And it went beyond that. The act of clearing the mail gave me a mini dopamine rush. I was getting something done! It was taking the place of actual productive work.

And it went beyond even that. I had a ton of legitimate mailing list subscriptions, most of which I never read. Because what’s the big deal, I’m processing mail anyway, maybe there’ll be an enticing subject line in one of them but if not it’s not any trouble to delete them, right? Now, I’m becoming downright religious about what gets into my inbox – if it shows up in there, it’d damn well better be actionable.

A humungous cloud has lifted from my head. I feel not unlike the first time I put on glasses and saw the world the way the everybody else did.

The best part? It’s spreading to other parts of my life now. What other activities can I cancel so I can spend more time doing what matters to me?

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