One Good Way to Better Manage E-Mail

You read a productivity article, and it suggested that you check your e-mail twice per day.

Great advice. I like it. I’d do it myself except that…

I can’t stay out of my freaking inbox. It calls to me. It pleads with me to switch over to that tab. It’s begging me to come look to see whether I’ve won first prize in a sweepstakes or something.

“You wouldn’t have checked your old-fashioned, physical mailbox 50 times per day,” they say with their superior tone.

Um, yes, I would have. I’d walk back and forth, up and down the driveway 50 times if I had to. I like mail. Mail is kind of like a slot machine in Las Vegas. It’s exciting. Something good might happen.

Of course, I’d stop checking once it arrived for the day, and I’d start thinking about tomorrow. But I’d keep half an eye out the window, just in case the FedEx or UPS guy stopped by.

I’m not a good candidate for the “check twice a day” plan unless they plan to use a Taser or something to keep me away from the box.

Try This Life-Altering E-Mail App

But then my life changed suddenly. It happened when Catriona Hartigan, a tax lawyer in Adelaide, told me about Batched Inbox. It’s a simple software product that gently forces you into checking your e-mail less frequently.

Batched Inbox grabs your e-mail all day long and puts it in a Gmail label (what the rest of the world calls “folders”) and holds it until certain times of the day when it releases your mail to your inbox. Yep, it only works with Gmail (which is, of course, what I use).

Yes, it’ll let me peek into the label and see my e-mail if I insist. But I can “hide” the label to keep it out of my busy little mind. So far, so good.

But what about the really important stuff from the really important people? Like my wife? Or like the bookkeeper, so I’ll know a fee came in so I can resume breathing?

Yep, you can make exceptions. It’ll allow you to create rules/filters to bypass the Batched Inbox so that you can see urgent mails or replies or mail from special senders. You can create all kinds of exceptions, which ultimately defeats the point, but whatever.

Batched Inbox works. It does what it says it does. It’s simple and easy, and it discourages you from checking the inbox all day long. Will it really keep the compulsive checkers out of the inbox? No. In fact, if you’re a lunatic e-mail checker like me, it’ll actually slow you down because you’ll now have to tab over, unhide the label, and peek in to see what’s hiding in there. It’s a hassle.

But the hassle is exactly the point. It’ll slow you down and discourage you. Eventually, in a way far more subtle than a Taser, it’ll create a barrier that encourages you to stay focused on the more important work and let your e-mail wait. Eventually, it’ll help you modify your behavior, and you’ll check e-mail less frequently.

Batched Inbox is a simple solution to a complicated and emotional productivity problem. You’ll get more done with its help. Give it a chance to keep you on track. It’s free, but it takes donations. And it’s way cheaper than a Taser.

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