Between notifications from social networking sites, offers from your favorite online stores, deals, subscribed-to newsletters and others, your inbox has been plagued by BACN. While BACN isn’t spam or unwanted email, it’s typically still email sent in bulk or in an automated fashion, and it seems the volume is increasing. It’s not that you don’t want to receive these notifications, you just don’t want them cluttering up your inbox. The word “BACN” is in reference to the same Monty Python skit that gave us the now ubiquitous word for junk electronic mail. In the skit, SPAM is nearly unavoidable (it’s in nearly every dish the restaurant serves) while BACN is available upon request.
BACN treads the line between worthless and worthwhile, sometimes providing real value or needed information while still carrying the annoyance of bulk messaging. BACN holds a special distinction from SPAM in that it’s something you sought out and signed up for. Maybe it’s coupons for an oft used product, or a message that advertises an important yearly sale. Maybe you don’t want it right now, but you will want it in the future. So how do you handle this bulk mail that seems to fall between SPAM and personal mail?
So what can you do?
Many of the notifications you’re receiving from social networking sites, blogs and personal websites don’t need to take up as much of your inbox real estate as they do. For starters, why not check the settings for your most annoying BACN sources and see if you can’t turn off the messages that let you know you’ve been followed, friended or poked? If you really need access to this information, some social networking sites allow you to sign up for a special RSS feed that delivers it on demand.
Depending on what kind of email service you’re using, another great way to cut the BACN (See what we did there?) is to automatically filter it into folders. Because BACN typically requires no immediate action, it’s a good idea to filter BACN to a folder where you can deal with it once a week.
But really, the best way to deal with BACN is to think twice before signing up for the onslaught of notifications and reminders in the first place. If a newsletter isn’t important enough to check out on its own site, perhaps it shouldn’t be cluttering up your inbox in the first place. It can be tempting to check the “send me the latest whatever” button on your favorite sites, but it often seems like a bad idea once you realize that every company you love seems to think they’re the only one sending you messages. Instead, try turning off all of your notifications and then perhaps following the companies you love on twitter. You’ll get information about sales, links to their latest blogs and more, without sacrificing that inbox space.