Easy wins: start a throwaway email ‘I wish I’d done this 10 years ago’

Lifestyle

The pandemic has been a nightmare of subscriptions, verifications, registrations, activations and the resetting of long-forgotten passwords. But for me, the tipping point came late.

After months of lockdown, I met some workmates in a beer garden. We checked in but the rules were that you couldn’t approach the bar. You had to order your drink from your table via an app.

Easy. Except that I was filling in the fields on a web form – email, phone number, address – just to get a $4 cranberry juice when I should have been enjoying the company of friends.

Was my email address then available to marketers far and wide? Did I untick the right boxes? Who knows, but I’m sure it only added to the deluge of unwanted offers that greet me every morning when I open my inbox.

So I’ve set up a throwaway email address, a place where all that stuff can be parked out of my sight. I use it for buying tickets, booking restaurants, making inquiries, ordering stuff online and for non-work Zoom meetings (like book chats). Think of it like junk mail for things that aren’t entirely junk.

The emails won’t pollute your main inbox and there’s no pressure to spend time deleting them. I wish I’d done this 10 years ago. It would have been great for signing up to streaming services – Netflix, Spotify, SBS On Demand – but so much of my life is already signed up.

Starting a throwaway email address is simple. Just create a new email account. Gmail is easy to set up and next-to-bottomless with its free 15 gigabytes of storage.

If you want to go a little further off-grid, there are various “burner” email services in which you can set up accounts that self-erase after a few hours or days. I don’t have anything I need to hide that badly.

So far, my throwaway account is happily catching tickets I need to print out later. It doesn’t have spam emails – yet. But when it does, at least it’s all in the one sinkhole that I never need to clean up.