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Minimal Digital

It’s a long story, but I have 6 email accounts. It’s amazing the cruft we accumulate over the years.

This is a lot, but I can’t really see me switching to just one, or combining some of them. I appreciate the separation of concerns. And half of them are single use emails. I do, however get a lot of email that I don’t need to see.

Get bad email out of your way

The Filter messages like these functionality of gmail is a wonder. It allows you to move messages out of your inbox as they arrive. You never see them. My most common trick is to Mark as read, and Archive these kinds of emails. It’ll be there if I need to reference it later, but I don’t have to see it now. You can add a Delete step to that filter for the communications you don’t want to see now, later, or ever.

  1. Select an email you want to filter
  2. From the More menu choose Filter messages like these
  3. Check the details on how to select the correct email settings
  4. Choose Create Filter with this Search
  5. Set your options. Skip the Inbox (Archive it), Mark as read, are my go-to’s
  6. Don’t forget the Also apply this to X matching conversations
  7. Done!

More Reduction

See what I did there?

As I noted at the top of the post, I keep one of my gmail addresses for newsletters. I am trying to reduce the amount of inputs digitally, but do value personal newsletters. In order to get them out of my email, I recently discovered a feature of Feedbin where you can use a custom email address to sign up to newsletters and have them routed to Feedbin, and not your email. Feedbin’s reading experience is much better than an email client, it’s better designed, and has less distractions.

Now with less!

Since I now have less emails vying for my attention, I decided to follow the advice from Manuel Moreale regarding a minimal email experience. This link was making the rounds on micro.blog and Patrick Rhone noted he wrote a similar post in 2009. Patrick is one of the people who has been discussing mindfulness, minimalism and technology for some time on the web.

It’s been almost ten years between these two posts. We’re still discussing minimalism in the digital space as companies continue to build retention” into their software to keep us hooked. The pull down to refresh” in every app on your iPhone is designed to mimic a Slot Machine.

Slot MachineSlot Machine

I know how the little white numbers in little red circles are affecting me, and I am seeing how it is affecting my children. I do not like it. Reducing the amount of inputs so that I only receive messages from other people is where I’m focusing right now.

Applying minimal email settings

I applied Manuel’s (and Patrick’s before him) email settings to my Mac and iPhone. I did add one extra thing. The little bar that has sort by date, and filter by unread.

Mac iOS
MacMac iOSiOS

I find the sorting and filtering to be useful. Perhaps as I continue my reduction strategy below, I won’t need them.

Next steps

I’ll be monitoring my email to see what I can cull. Slack is something that is useful for my work, but also has too many notifications. I’ve done some pruning there, but need to further explore. More on that later.

Posted on 3/17/2018   #do less with technology  






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