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Force Yourself To Take Action With A Gmail Smart Unread Inbox

Empty Inbox

It’s common for many of us to become encumbered with a continuous email flow. Eventually, we give in to the Select All | Archive temptation. Instead of addressing each message individually, we yield to the desire to just make them disappear.

While understandable, this behavior is not desirable, and may result in you missing an important request, or worse, finding one too late to be of use. If you have a few moments to spare, there is a way for you to setup a workflow that might help you get a better handle on your unread messages.

Today’s tip focuses on the email granddaddy, Gmail, but a similar workflow can be established with any email setup you may utilize. In short, we are going to setup a filter and a special inbox that dynamically disappears once its messages have been addressed.

  1. First, clear out your inbox backlog (give Email DMZ a try if you’re not sure how to proceed).
  2. Next, create a Gmail filter where all messages skip the inbox. Make sure to place a wildcard (*) in the from: field and make sure you check off the box that says Skip Inbox.
  3. Go to your Labs settings and enable Multiple Inboxes. Save your settings.
  4. Finally, in the Mutiple Inboxes tab, in Panel 0, enter the search query is:unread and put an underscore (_) in the Panel Title. Set the Maximum Page Size Set to conversations, and extra panels positioned above the inbox.

Now, your inbox will only contain unread messages, and once you read an email (if you don’t do anything else with it), it will remove itself from your inbox, thus providing you with the motivation to promptly act on it. This system works particularly well if you adopt the following strategy:

  1. If a message will only take a moment or two to act on, immediately address it.
  2. If a message will take a little time to work on, put it on your To Do list and star it.
  3. If your message requires you to take action on a specific date, put it on your calendar.

For any other case, just archive the message to auto-advance yourself to the next unread piece of correspondence.

Via Lifehacker

Source Leo Babauta

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