I like to joke about how using social networks like Twitter can give you “ADOLAS” (ADD, Oh, look at Squirrel!). The reference is from the Disney/Pixar movie UP – the scenes where the talking dogs can’t finish a sentence because they get distracted by a squirrel.
I’ve tried to come up with some manual ways to avoid this on Twitter. For example, colleagues using the #squirrel hashtag and we remind each other to focus or suggest other techniques. But to tell you the truth, I’ve had a major squirrel problem with my email.
I’ve been using Gmail for many years. I use labels, filters, and the stars to filter and prioritize emails. I’ve been using the color coded labels to indicate work flow and use RED for one called !!!_Priority so it appears on the top of my filter list. I’ve trained myself to go to that label first when I feel overwhelmed.
But, today, Google has released Priority In Box – what I like about it is that it automates and extends the manual processing of priority email. It gives you a little symbol for “important” and “not important” so you can flag those priority messages and they appear on the top of your list.
Explore the Priority In Box tab in the settings and you’ll see that you can group your in box into different priority levels. Incoming email gets separated into sections: important and unread, starred, and everything else. These too can be customized.
I’ve been using the star to indicate an email that has a task that I need to do or come back to. But I also use labels to indicate work flow like “reply,” “read,” “schedule,” and “waiting for.” (I also so subject matter labels/filters as well).
Over time, you train gmail to automatically put the important emails at the top. I’ll be curious to see how this works.
There are more suggestions and features that you can use to help you fine-tune your filtering of priority emails/tasks.
This feature has the potential to help me fix my email squirrel problem. That is – when I open up my email box – I get distracted versus seeing a prioritized list.