Email, an update

This week’s Thing in my work projects is talking about managing email. While I talked about this back in January, I’ve changed enough of my methods that it’s probably worth talking briefly about it again.

Email accounts:

I have a lot.

My work email lives in its own account, and I log into it through our single login interface. I open it when I get to work in the morning, and I close it in the evening, and I generally keep an eye on if I have new messages (or IMs) all the time during the day, though sometimes the window gets buried under something else.

I don’t normally check my work email from home, though I will occasionally if I’m home sick, travelling for more than a day or two, or have some specific reason to.

My personal email is actually a whole bunch of linked accounts – they are all set up to pour into my primary personal email address, but they include three email addresses I use for various professional resources, plus several personal emails for less public things. Having them all sent to the same inbox makes it easier to check.

Most of my accounts are on Gmail, but I also have email via my domain names. I like Gmail for its search ability, and because I’m often accessing it on at least 3 different devices (computer, phone, iPad) and it’s the best solution for multiple access points I’ve found.


I use a number of filters and labels in Gmail, but my major ones are as follows:

  • Project emails for my big personal project, so I can see just those emails without having to search.
  • Offers and discounts from businesses (I check these when I’m thinking about buying something, and clear them all out every few months.)
  • Mailing lists filter into a single large folder, and I read it as I have time (but if I’m busy, they’re not cluttering the rest of my email.)
  • Emails related to my blogs, so I can find comments and replies easily.

I am not using Gmail’s automatic email configuration options (that filter emails into up to five tabs – personal, social, promotions, forums, and updates) because their divisions don’t work well for the way I use my email.

Gmail tools:

Gmail provides a number of experimental ‘lab’ features. The ones I use include:

  • Auto-advance (which shows the next conversation after you delete, archive, or mute)
  • Mark as Read button
  • Quick Links (lets you save a specific conversation to your sidebar)
  • Quote Selected Text (highlight the bit I want to quote)
  • Right Side Chat (makes it easier to manage)
  • Unread message icon (how many messages I have unread)

I also use the Minimalist extension for Chrome to remove items I don’t use, and to make the most of my screen space.

Other tools:

There’s a (relatively) new app called Mailbox that I use for casual access on the go, but also for one specific thing – it lets me postpone a message for a period of time (later that day, the next day, sometime in the future, etc.) which is great if I’m travelling or away from my computer, but don’t want it cluttering my inbox. However, it doesn’t store most of your email, and it insists on top-quoting, so I keep a more general Gmail app around for other access (and I don’t use it unless I’m doing a quick parse of my email while out and about – it is not my primary email interface.) More at  Gizmodo.

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Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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