Some days, I just can't face my inbox. Despite my aggressive use of filters, folders and color coding, email tortures me throughout my work day. Currently my Gmail inbox has thousands of messages in it. Many have been read and responded to, but most sit there, taunting me with subject lines that have no relevance to my work or life.
Technically, the messages are not spam (more like bacn), since they are usually pitches from PR people who would like me to review their product, plug their contest or offer a coupon to readers of my blogs. Every now and then I'll find an email pitch on a topic I am personally interested in. But more often than not these messages sit completely ignored or get attention only when email rage takes over and I just start deleting messages indiscriminately.
Truly important messages, the ones I really want to read and respond to, might never find me. I've tried to clean up my email act on several occasions by combining email accounts, adding new accounts, and logging in only twice per work day. I've even tried (gasp!) using the phone or instant messaging instead.
And yet it's clear: email is not going away anytime soon. Thankfully, Google has rolled out their new Priority Inbox. Currently in beta, Priority Inbox uses the same tools Google uses to filter spam, to pull your most important messages to the top of the pile. Your Priority Inbox appears on the left-hand side of your screen and separates important messages, messages you've "starred" for attention, and then everything else. When you've acted on the important messages, Google gives a little cheer, "Woohoo! You've read all the important messages in your inbox."
I've been using Priority Inbox for a week now and it's been pretty accurate. Now I just have to make sure I keep that priority level clean.
Do you have a favorite tool or tip for managing email overload?