The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The Email Solution of My Dreams

If you’ve ever emailed and have never gotten a response, I hereby apologize. There was a time when I was on top of my email inbox every day. But something happened along the way to becoming a working parent of two young children. Now, I’m lucky if I checked my email every few days. There are, on any given day, more things that I want and/or need to do that I have time to do. So I make choices. If, for example, I want to write, email is likely to fall by the wayside.

It’s not unusual for me to have several hundred, or even more than 1,000 emails sitting in my inbox. So, never mind getting to the bottom of my inbox. That’s something that happens maybe every few weeks. The best I can do is to scan my inbox for priority emails and “star” them so that I could keep track of them. It’s a great system, and it had me wishing for a way to have those emails automatically placed in a high priority email inbox that I knew to check first. I even tried to figure out how to use Gmail’s filters to do something close to that.

Google must have been reading my mind, when they developed Gmail’s priority inbox.

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People tell us all the time that they’re getting more and more mail and often feel overwhelmed by it all. We know what you mean—here at Google we run on email. Our inboxes are slammed with hundreds, sometimes thousands of messages a day—mail from colleagues, from lists, about appointments and automated mail that’s often not important. It’s time-consuming to figure out what needs to be read and what needs a reply. Today, we’re happy to introduce Priority Inbox (in beta)—an experimental new way of taking on information overload in Gmail.

Gmail has always been pretty good at filtering junk mail into the “spam” folder. But today, in addition to spam, people get a lot of mail that isn't outright junk but isn't very important—bologna, or “bacn.” So we've evolved Gmail's filter to address this problem and extended it to not only classify outright spam, but also to help users separate this "bologna" from the important stuff. In a way, Priority Inbox is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules.

I’ve only been using it for a couple of days, and I’ve already responded to a couple of important emails that might have gotten buried otherwise. And I’m someone who regularly has anxiety that I’ve missed an important email and/or an important opportunity, because it got buried.

Now, I’ll probably miss a lot fewer of those emails.

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