About a month ago, Google rolled out a change to its email program that sorts your emails into several simple categories. You could opt-out of the new look or customize it.
I already had my own email filters in place, but I liked the organizational simplicity of Google’s tab choices and kept their categories of primary, social and promotions. The other 2, updates and forums, I got rid of.
Email marketers were less than thrilled with the change. Most made a mad dash to alert their subscribers to move their “valuable content” to the primary tab.
I chose to move a few but not many. I deleted several that I hadn’t read or bought from in ages and I left the rest under the promotions tab. After several weeks of using the new arrangement, I find it helps me manage my inbox time a lot better.
I like that the promotional messages are not mixed in with emails that are more important to me like friends emails and client correspondence. When I go to the promotions tab, I can make a quick visual assessment of how long it will take me to plow through those emails. Then, I get to decide how to prioritize handling them. I generally set aside a block of time each day to scan/read them. During that time, the promotional emails get my full attention.
Certainly there are pluses and minuses to a “smart” inbox. The arbitrary sorting was offensive to some.. a Big Brother move. (however, you can opt-out of the new Gmail or modify it). Email marketers fear if their emails are not in the primary box – front and center – you won’t see them or buy from them which is a valid concern. A counter argument, perhaps a weaker claim, is that when you open the promotions tab, you are more likely to be in a buying mood. Time will tell.
We’ve all been dealing with cluttered inboxes full of spam and other junk emails for years plus everyone is bombarded by advertising messages everywhere. Social media has given marketers even more enticing avenues to strut their stuff.
My feeling is streamlining the inbox to let you choose what is primary communication to you is a good thing.
I am confident the marketplace will find new and better ways to get our attention and our dollars very quickly.
There are lots of great systems and books about how to make the most of your time. I've highlighted one book I recommend below.
Stop doing busywork. Start doing your best work.
Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven’t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?
The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, Manage Your Day-to-Day will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.
Featuring contributions from: Dan Ariely, Leo Babauta, Scott Belsky, Lori Deschene, Aaron Dignan, Erin Rooney Doland, Seth Godin,Todd Henry, Christian Jarrett, Scott McDowell, Mark McGuinness, Cal Newport, Steven Pressfield, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, Elizabeth G. Saunders, Tony Schwartz, Tiffany Shlain, Linda Stone, and James Victore. Plus, a foreword from Behance founder & CEO Scott Belsky.