Finally! Gmail’s missing feature is here…

Keith Schacht| July 15th, 2010
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There is a  feature that I’ve wanted in Gmail for awhile: email snooze. I want to defer a message until a future date and have it pop back up like a normal email. For the last week I’ve been using a solution that Pari found, an add-on called ActiveInbox. It’s a plugin for Firefox and Chrome that adds a bunch of new useful features to Gmail just like Google Labs does, but these features are way more useful than any Labs feature I’ve tried and snooze is my favorite. (They have a free version but you have to spend $25 for the Plus version to get this killer feature, they call it “schedule and deadline emails”)

First, I’ll explain my gmail problem, maybe you can relate.  I want to stay on top of my email so I’m regularly reviewing and culling my inbox. Alas, I can almost never get my inbox to zero because there are always emails that I’m putting off, either because I’m waiting on something or because I just don’t want to do it today.

Have you ever noticed that when everything is put away in your home it’s easier to keep clean, but as soon as it gets cluttered it goes downhill quickly? That’s how I feel about my inbox. Most days it’s cluttered with about 25 “future” emails and on busy weeks it quickly spikes to 3 or 4 times that. There are three main problems I experience with these emails I’m putting off: (1) they clutter my view so I can miss important emails, (2) I end up reading these emails way too many times because I wonder “why is this in here again, oh yea, waiting on someone to get back to me”, (3) I never get a true feeling of being “done” with my work at the end of the day, there is the perpetual feeling of, “I’m sure I could get a few more of these done.”

I’ve tried implementing Gmail GTD by using labels, filterssuperstars, but the problem with every approach is that they only solve issue #1. All these approaches get the emails out of my inbox, but then I’m forced to review my Actions and Waiting On list, most of which still aren’t ready to be done, so then I stop regularly reviewing them and they quickly pile up.

With ActiveInbox, a few times per day I go through inbox and get it to zero by quickly replying, putting it on my Today list, or scheduling it for a future date; I’ll never see this email again until that date! Then for the rest of the day I just work off my Today list. At the end of the day if I didn’t get everything done I force myself to look at all remaining items in Today and reschedule them. This last step is key, I’ve been surprised how I’m ready to bump an email to Tomorrow for the third time and I just decide it must not be that important and delete it or put it off till way in the future.

Some other cool features from ActiveInbox:

  • Right-click on any person’s name and it pops up a window with every email related to this person
  • It adds a “Finish” button next to Archive. This removes all labels from the email in one-click. If you use labels you’ve noticed that Archive becomes useless when you’re working through a bunch of labeled emails.
  • Let’s you add labels to an email when you’re composing it so you don’t have to open it from your Sent folder
  • Creates a new type of label called “Projects”

Anyone else have other killer Gmail tips?

3 Responses to “Finally! Gmail’s missing feature is here…”

  1. Taylor O Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Just got in to the beta for Boomerang for G-Mail which has a similar snooze/delay function:
    http://www.baydin.com/

  2. Keith Schacht Says:
    August 22nd, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    That looks a great option as well. I hope gmail eventually adds this to the core product.

  3. Daniel Reeves Says:
    September 21st, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I find Boomerang’s interface for snooze to be cumbersome. I’m eager to try ActiveInbox.

    I wrote a similar post about this issue a while ago:
    http://messymatters.com/email
    It sketches my dream interface for snooze and two other features I call re-ping and auto-expire.

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