Everything we do involves some kind of ‘noise’. We are surrounded by it. And we often like to believe it is this ‘noise’, that determines how ‘busy’ we are.

Noise looks likes constant emails, phone calls, television, movement from A to B, meetings etc. You get the picture.

In my situation, the ‘noise’ are my emails. My computer and phone both make a certain noise when something new drops in my inbox. But the problem: it’s nonstop.

But the critical question is how much of this noise is good noise?

This is the kind of noise that adds value, leads to productivity and gets things done.

I have a love-hate relationship with emails: because I desperately need them to get things done, but I also resent them for coming in, in their hundreds, on a daily basis. This includes work and personal stuff.

So in order to manage this I created a few accounts: one for iTunes, another for personal general, another for a certain category of friends etc., until eventually I landed up with too many to manage, for a single human being.

Scrolling through my emails trying to pick out the priority issues, it hit me: I don’t need most if the noise in this inbox. It wasn’t productive or useful noise, especially in a world where we all claim to be so busy.

In some instances I had subscribed to the most random newsletters or online store updates. While in other instances, spam had found its way into my inbox.

So what kind of noise to do I want?
And how do I deal with the noise I don’t like?

Simple: The kind of noise that adds value.
And how do I deal with the noise I don’t like?

1. The unsubscribe button is your friend

This button is the real deal. It has made sure I stop getting unnecessary noise. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment we hit the ‘subscribe button’ because of a promotion a store is running or a particular brand and we forget to unsubscribe. I am not advocating for you to be disloyal to your brand or store, but if you don’t want to make a lifelong commitment to it, you don’t have to.

Unsubscribe and clear it out unwanted noise.

2. “Rules” and “Folders”

A little gem that hasn’t been fully utilised.

I categorise all emails based on: “where they are from” or “what is in the subject line”.

So I create “rules” that identify key words, which means that email gets thrown into a certain folder.

This is helpful because the email account prioritises on your behalf and you don’t have to scroll through hundreds of emails to get to the productive ‘noise’.

It also means that when I am opening a certain folder, I know what category of emails I’m dealing with from the onset.

3. Priorities according to whom?

One of the most difficult things to manage is the ‘noise’ that others force on to you. This is the ‘noise’ that is ‘urgent’, but only because they (the sender) say it is.

I don’t mind dealing with urgent matters… Life is full of such instances. But if I have done my bit and you dropped the ball somewhere somehow, don’t respond late and then declare it ‘urgent’.

I am guilty of this sometimes, but I don’t hide. OWN IT. Apologise.

People appreciate it when you take some responsibility for making your ‘noise’ their ‘urgent’.

So what kind of noise do you like? Because not all noise is necessary.