Reclaiming Your Inbox

As time goes by, I end up on more and more mailing lists. Many are things I opt into: I download a new software package and subscribe to the mailing list, or I’m interested in learning more about something so I join a relevant mailing list…

The downside is that every morning I wake up and have around a dozen new messages, and none of them interest me. Some guy is having trouble configuring his mailserver. A package I don’t use anymore got updated…

In addition to unsubscribing from stuff I no longer care anything about, here’s an awesome tip that I suspect not enough people know about: creating rule-driven e-mail filters. GMail makes this very easy. Viewing a particular e-mail, where the reply button is, click the down arrow and do “Filter messages like this.” If it’s on a mailing list, you might also see a “Filter mail from this mailing list” button. (You have to click “Show details…” on the header.)

Set it to apply a new ‘label’ to that mailing list, which you can think of as copying it into a folder. Set it to skip the inbox, too. And have it apply to past messagesto help reduce the clutter.

And another trick someone pointed out: you know how most everyone has “Unread messages: 204924” in their inboxes? For some reason, I’m inclined to want to keep them, figuring they might be important. But if they were so uninteresting that I didn’t even open them, I’m most certainly not going to ever read them. In GMail, you can do a search for “is:unread” to find all unread mail, and bulk-delete them that way. It’s worth noting that this matches all mail with ‘labels,’ too.

I have no unread messages, and no ‘busy’ mailing lists cluttering my Inbox now.

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