The Reason Behind All My Email Filters

It seems that my last post about rolling your own ‘priority inbox’ by using various rules in Apple’s Mail.app has garnered a bit of attention, and has some people questioning the technique.

It seems to me like people are mis-interpreting what my reasons for creating these rules are. I went back through my post and realized that I really didn’t put the meat of the reason I do all this, so here it is: my iPhone/iPad sanity is the main reason I apply all these rules.

Currently iOS doesn’t support these rules, so when I get an email it is in the inbox in both my iPad and iPhone – all of my emails are there. That started to be a real pain for me on a day to day basis. I spend chunks of my week away from my Mac and away from WiFi which means that I am on my iPhone or iPad getting things done. When I see my iPhone inbox reach 30-40 emails I get a little annoyed sorting through all the crap to find the few that I really need to read especially in the 5 free minutes I have between meetings. Thus I created rules that would get rid of the stuff I don’t need to see while I am out (and perhaps things that I never need to see).

The rules I have created have helped me to see only what is really important while I am out and about, and what was once 30-40 emails is a more manageable 5-10 emails. I can breeze through 5-10 emails in the 5 minute breaks that I have throughout the day with little problems.

I have great respect for the fact that Dave Caolo reads each email, treating them all the same, but that doesn’t and won’t work for me. Nor do I think I would want to do that, when you send me an email that I am copied in on along with 50 other people, without even referencing me in the email, here is what crosses through my mind:

“This person clearly just wants to show how important they are by wasting 50 peoples time all at once. Bastard.”

That is honestly what I think, so I just hide away all that email. I filter my email with rules to hide the stuff that I feel wastes my time, and that is irrelevant for the most part. I don’t know what the ‘right way’ to do email is, but what I do know is that far to many people do it wrong. They waste too much time with emails that are sent out of laziness of them not wanting to find the answer or do the meaningless task themselves – all I try to do is eliminate that crap from my inbox.

[This part of an ongoing series on dealing with email, to see more posts look here.]

Originally posted for members on: September 3, 2010
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