Filmmaker Julio Vincent Gambuto had spent more than a decade taking on projects, networking, and flying back and forth between New York City and California to maintain his fabulous lifestyle.
With the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, everything came to an abrupt end.
But Gambuto didn’t miss the relentless hum of his former life.
He realized he was overworked, overbooked and unhappy.
So he stopped.
He has unsubscribed from everything: automated emails, social media, values, and even relationships, in an effort to reclaim his life and rediscover what really matters.
He describes it all in his new book: “Please unsubscribe, thank you! How to reclaim our time, our attention, and our purpose in a world designed to bury us in bulls-t” (Avid Reader Press), a radical guide to tackling the relentless noise that has taken over modern life.
This whole “unsubscribe” process started during the pandemic when you received this email about a J. Crew sale. Why?
Julio Vincent Gambuto: At the start of the pandemic, most retail brands had sent emergency emails such as “Make sure you wash your hands.”
It wasn’t necessarily anything in that J. Crew email that was so offensive — it was just the return to sales a few weeks later, when the pandemic clearly wasn’t over and had clearly gotten worse.
I found it annoying.
Why is it important to unsubscribe from brand emails and promotions?
First, it makes your inbox a more private space. If you can truly get rid of the interruptions and constant pinging of your inbox, you’ll reclaim what’s private and what’s yours in the email experience.
Many of us start our day with email. If we can start our day in a way that isn’t marred by constant marketing, we could have calmer days.
You then opt out of the so-called “major forces”: media, political parties and technology. You quit social media and even turn off your TV.
After unsubscribing from email, I was excited to see what might happen on the other side.
How about I just leave everything behind and start over?
What would it be like to get to a point where I haven’t heard from the Democratic Party or seen the day’s news in three weeks?
What do you get back in your day and rhythm of life when you take these things out?
The process of logging out is important for refocusing on the important things.
For me it was a relationship. It integrated my family into everyday life.
It was about making sure I was a better neighbor and taking care of my body. And then I could put the rest back in, but in a place where it fits.
They also did this process with people. You cleared your calendar and didn’t see anyone – what did you discover?
It became clear that I was spending a lot of time, energy, and emotional resources on a few people who constantly demanded it, either on my screen or in my everyday life.
That one business partner who takes up too much time and space, that one family member who is just constant.
At some point I realized that I hadn’t chosen her to be there – or I had did I chose her to be there, but I was kind of just on autopilot. I had allowed them to take up so much space years ago.
It’s one thing to unsubscribe from emails, but what about work?
The important decision is: Do you want to unsubscribe? out of work, or would you like to log out at work?
When you log out out of You’ve made the decision that it’s important enough for you to make a big change and quit your job. But that’s not always practical for people.
There are ways to unsubscribe at work.
First: How can I unsubscribe superficially? What are the things on my phone and in my contacts and in Slack? [that are invading my life]?
Second, how can I unsubscribe from some of the people, institutions, and groups that constantly invade my time and space?
And three: really think and spend some time figuring out how I feel about my job. How can I embrace the idea that it is my identity and challenge that?
What does your life look like now?
I don’t necessarily live off the grid. I just have more control over my day.
I use a different type of phone with limited apps. I’m now on social media twice a week. Life is slower.
When I meet a friend, I schedule three or four hours in my calendar instead of 45 minutes. I travel less. I spend less. I read books. I am going for a walk.
How did your family and friends react?
You think I’m crazy! But I really enjoy it when people call and say, “Hey, I removed Instagram from my phone, I just watch it on my laptop now.” Or, “Yesterday I went out to lunch and I closed my phone Left home.”