Google has recently added a super mega cool feature to Gmail – multiple inboxes. For me, it was an instant boost in productivity and huge improvement in the way I handle email. However, while I was sharing my excitement with friends and co-workers, I’ve received quite a few cold looks and “so what?”s.
So, what’s so cool about multiple inboxes? Here is how I enjoy them so far.
I’ve setup forwarding on all my email accounts so that all messages end up in the single Gmail account of mine. This means that I have the same mailbox for personal emails, work emails, blog related emails, spam, and so on and so forth. All that email is handled with a multitude of labels and filters. And overall it works pretty well.
However, there was a little annoyance in my daily routine. As part of my job I have to review and monitor Subversion commits from several programmers that work in our office. Commit notifications come to me in the form of emails, and since they are rather high priority, they are labeled automatically, but not archived. They stay in the main inbox until I read and archive them manually. Also, as part of my consulting work for another company, I have to go through their commits as well. These too are labeled separately, but end up in the main inbox. And, additionally, I am using Gmail as a task manager for things that should be done eventually. For that I have emails with tasks, labeled separately, and starred. Not a huge mess, but not the ideal solution, especially when it mixes up with direct messages from work and friends.
Once Gmail got the multiple inboxes feature, I modified my filters to archive commit messages from both companies automatically (but not mark them as read). Then I created three additional inboxes – one for tasks, and two for commit messages. The tasks inbox lists all starred messages with a certain label. Commit inboxes list messages with labels for each company. Now I have my main inbox for direct messages from friends and work, and the rest of the things that I need to keep an eye on are right there, in front of me, but re-organized a bit to give me some breathing room.
With this new feature I can keep my main inbox message count much closer to zero, while still have some lose ends in case I need to argue over a commit or keep a few more things on the task list. Excellento!
Big thanks to Gmail team – well done.