Back in the 60's, a monster was created in the form of electronic messages. A monster that lives and thrives in today's world. In a corporate setting, a person's computer can almost accurately be referred to as an "email-machine". Without it, industries would crumble, people would stare their dead-eyed stares at the screen or just weep uncontrollably.
But from the swirling vortex of muck known as "E-Mail" comes a ray of hope.
I've been a fan of Gmail for quite some time. I've almost completely tore away from a desktop-based program to manage my emails (I still use Thunderbird for some of the random email addresses I manage). I've no complaints with Gmail. None whatsoever. The interface is slick, fast, supports desktop notifications and keeps conversations grouped together in beautiful harmony. The only problem I had was me. I hate having unread messages in my inbox. It annoys me. When I see one pop up, I immediately mark it unread, whether I've read it or not. I don't want to see that little (1). I usually read them at my leisure at a later point.
Another thing about me, though: I also don't want to "organize" my emails. I'm not interested in creating an elaborate set of folders and subfolders that I'll have to spend extra time maintaining. No sir. I've seen other people's "systems" that involve 5 levels of "sub-foldering" and I don't see it as being very useful. So I leave everything I want in my inbox. Anything that's not of interest, goes into the trash. I really had no problem with this system. It was pretty straightforward and I stayed on top of things.
I thought things would be this way forever. However, Google's new "Inbox" helped me change the way I think about email. Click on the logo and go sign up. You'll need to activate Google Inbox by downloading the app first.
I'd heard the term "Inbox Zero" used but never thought much of trying to apply it to myself. "Too much work", I thought. The benefits weren't lost on me, however. By keeping your inbox empty, you'd only be looking at what was recent and applicable. Implementing this concept was difficult.
That's where Google Inbox makes things great. Using it, however, required me to re-think the way I looked at email. The best way to convey this is to summarize my change in heart and look at how Inbox helps:
1) I learned to stop deleting emails ---
Google gives you a LOT of free space when you make an account with them. So much, in fact, that you'd have to have some serious email issues if you filled up your Gmail account with emails. Space is cheap these days and if you're like me, you've dropped the extra $3/month they charge for a 100Gb Drive Account. Why not? Even so, I found that I would delete emails I didn't consider important. Why? It's just an extra step. One of the biggest "fears" in email is deleting something you'll need later. Well, just stop deleting emails and you'll never need to worry!
Google Inbox centers around marking messages as "Done". This means they get dumped into the "Done" folder and out of your inbox. Poof. Gone. No need to mess with it. How much space are you saving by deleting it? The goal is to get it out of your way and Marking a message as "Done" accomplishes this! On the web version, there is a search bar (there's also a button on the app) that makes use of Google's unparalleled searching algorithms to help you find ANYTHING you may need to dredge back up from years past.
2) I let Google organize my emails ---
A while back google introduced a feature in Gmail where it would auto-organize your emails into groups. Social, Promos, etc. I found this cumbersome to navigate, as it was accessed via tabs. But more so...I just didn't trust Google to do it right. I found the available categories to be too limiting and didn't think it would work right, so I just disabled the feature. But Google Inbox, I think, gets it right.
In first pulling up my mess of an inbox, things were perfectly organized. Purchase notifications, site updates, promos, social, and even messages specific to forums were all nicely grouped and could be swiped away as done with the click of a button.
This has been fantastic. If I skim my promo emails in a day and don't see anything I like, swoosh. I'm done and don't need to look at them any more.
Additionally, messages in the inbox that have attachments or grouped images, can be viewed quickly without opening the email itself. Saving even more time.
3) Finally, I learned to prioritize ---
Okay. So what if I see an email that's in my inbox, but to deal with it now (call someone, pay something, etc.), I either don't have all the info or would rather take care of it later? For instance, I got notification that a domain would be expiring in a month, but didn't have the funds in place at the moment to renew it. In times past, this would have sat in my inbox and annoyed me.
Google's thought of a nice solution.
Just click the clock, set a time, and the email will pop back into your inbox at the select date & time! You can also click the push-pin to "pin" the email to your inbox. These keeps it up towards the top or lets you filter by emails you've pinned.
By utilizing these tools (in the browser and on the phone) I've been able to properly prioritize my emails and put things out of my mind that don't need to be dealt with at present.
Hopefully you've been inspired to give Google Inbox a shot. It takes a shift in the way you look at email, but I feel the benefits are well worth the initial awkwardness.