Simplifying is not confined to the brick and mortar world. A simplified life can be sabotaged by how we spend our online time. To free up time and e-space, it may be time to evaluate the online subscriptions cluttering up your inbox and RSS reader.

The last time I estimated, there were about 8 kazillion websites competing for subscribers. (That’s a number I made up because I’m too lazy to research, but it feels right, doesn’t it?) How do you decide which sites deserve your precious time and which don’t?

First and foremost, if being online is hurting your family, your budget, or your marriage, get off now…and stay off!

If you simply need to be a better manager of your online time, here are ten questions to ask yourself before subscribing to or unsubscribing from a blog or website:

Which Online Subscriptions are Best for You? A 10-Question Assessment to Help Manage Your Subscriptions | TheSimpleHomemaker.com

Ten Questions to Help You Manage Your Online Subscriptions

1) Does it offer relevant value to my life right now? Sure, someday I might like a little place in the country with some chickens and horses, but subscribing to chicken-raising blogs and saddle sale alerts is not getting me there. Hello irrelevant!

2) Do I read almost every post? Regardless of how amazing the site may be, if I delete or skip over the majority of the posts, it is not worth the five-second delete time and the e-space it’s cluttering up.

3) Do the posts offer gentle encouragement instead of debilitating fear or guilt? Just like my blog, my inbox is a no-guilt, no-fear zone. Period.

4) Am I able to read deal posts and promotion notifications without being tempted to exceed my budget? In other words, can I pass up deals that are too good to pass up?

5) Are the posts reasonable, rather than overwhelming, in their frequency? One of the very few blogs to which I am subscribed sends out one highly relevant Crohn’s-friendly recipe about every two weeks. That’s my speed. A deal site I subscribe to sends out a bundled compilation email once a day so I can quickly scan it for free Redbox codes relevant deals.

6) Is each subscription unique? Back before I decided that actively trying to grow my blog was like actively trying to grow a third arm, I was subscribed to several blogging sites. I spent so much time reading them, I didn’t get around to working on my blog. Now I occasionally subscribe to one here and there while they run a series, and when the series ends, I reevaluate.

7) Is the site encouraging me in my craft, parenting, faith, or marriage? If my writing site subscription makes me read and dream about writing, but hinders me from ever doing the kind of writing I love to do, how is that benefiting me? Let me help you on that one. It’s not! If a site contains husband bashing, it’s o-u-t, out! If it focuses on materialism or clutters my mind with too many thoughts of what the world says I should be doing, it’s so outta here.

8) Is the site promoting contentment? I totally unsubscribed from DreamHorse.com. ‘Nuf said.

9) Is it just plain fun for me? If a site gives me a good ol’ fashioned G-rated endorphin-releasing ab-toning hee haw, I just might have to keep that subscription. If it’s uplifting, encouraging, or in any other way like a virtual fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie, it’s fine in moderation…but the kids and hubby still come first.

10) Does the site belong to a family member? When a family member lets us know they keep up on our travelsour music mission, The Simple Homemaker, or our teens’ (Hannah and Marissa’s) sites, it’s encouraging. When we learn that a cousin or niece or sibling starts a site, we jump on board.

If you answered yes (or not applicable) to most of these questions, then the site may be worthy of your valuable time. If most of them received a resounding NO, then it’s time to mercilessly hit the unsubscribe button, even if it’s my site.

So…now what?

If you have hundreds of subscriptions, I feel your pain. I had over 150 after simplifying my online life. I’ve knocked it down to the 60s, and I still chisel away as needed. Instead of receiving upwards of 100 subscription emails a day, I receive about 8-12.

Try these three tips:

  • unsubscribe from one or two each day, or
  • attack it faster with my ridiculously simple “Ten Things” strategy, and
  • check out Unroll.me, a free service that helps me manage my subscriptions. It bundles those 8-12 emails into one message and makes unsubscribing a snap! I love you, Unroll.me!

From now on, add no newbies—not even me—that don’t score exceptionally well on the test above. Deal? Deal!

So, ‘fess up. How many online subscriptions do you have? And how do you decide what’s a keeper and what isn’t?