Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

After reading this Lifehacker article, I'm questioning my use of filters in my email. I have two separate GMail inboxes, one for my school/work account at my university, the other for my personal account. I get a fair amount of email in both, probably 60+ a day in the former, 20+ a day in the latter, and this is over and above the rules that prune things out of the inbox into separate folders (like, say, "politics" or "Psych 220").

A problem I've noticed is, even on the weeks when I'm really good about inbox zero, I'm really haphazard about going through those separate folders, so I'm looking for a good heuristic about when I should and when I shouldn't do this.

My best guess is that if it's a topic that has anything that could be important, that I might need to see or act on on a daily basis, don't filter - just process the inbox like usual. But for stuff that isn't - say, like, Groupons - filter and make a task to remind me to check them on occasion. But this is just a guess. Any tried-and-true methods?

share|improve this question
I just found this courtesy of this ... which may solve my GTD woes and my filtering woes in one fell swoop. I'll try it for about a week and then maybe answer my own question. – Zelbinian Nov 21 '13 at 23:33
Just FYI: Related to my previous comment, if you're a "power user" of the GTD method, using Gmail as your main weapon isn't a great idea. If you put a lot of context tags on a thing, you won't be able to read the subject lines. Also, you can't easily edit subject lines, which is a bummer. – Zelbinian Nov 29 '13 at 19:05

I have a pretty busy set of mailboxes - the worst gets about 200-250 emails a day, of which maybe 50 are 'do today', 50 are 'delete once read' and maybe another 50 are 'delete immediately', which leaves me with 50-100 that I use filters to file.

I tweak the filters probably once a month, or if I find too many emails appearing (ie my mailbox builds up too fast) and most of my filters are per-project, per-product or per-site.

For the per-project ones my read frequency is determined entirely by priority. If that project is a daily task, I read the emails daily. If it is a long term one with monthly reporting, I may just read once a week unless I expect a busy period.

For things like Groupon stuff - I don't even set a task, I simply browse if bored at lunchtime or before bed. Low priority for me.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.