Gmail Tip: How To Stop Checking Email All The Time

I just wanted to quickly share a good GMail setup I am trialling to help me stop checking email all the time which can be very counter productive (this is a follow up to my Blog asking what the best email client is for GTD which I have come to the conclusion does not exist!). This little tip could be used for any email client which instantly checks and notifies you of new email. Windows clients like Outlook should have a control to stop checking email so you wont need this.

As part of my continuous productivity improvement I realised using GMail is counter productive. I am “in” Gmail nearly all the time as this is where customer projects and tasks information is located and I need to refer to it, but GMail would instantly show me a new email has arrived in the Inbox and human curiosity (which I cannot stop hence this solution!) made me checkout the email to which I would sometimes reply or action. If I have many emails then as I am “in” Gmail and replying, new ones would come in, maybe replies to the emails I just sent, and before you know it it’s home time! So I needed to stop being notified, and check email only when I am ready, not when GMail wants me to!

How Do I Stop Checking Email All The Time

The way to do this in GMail (and other similar clients) is to create a new Inbox into which I put emails and mark them as Read, so I cannot see there are unread emails in there.

Create New Inbox

Under Settings –> Labels we need to create our new Inbox. I call it quite simply “My Inbox”.

Note: I have also created additional Inboxes called “To Process” and “Other”. You do not need to but it helps with my GTD setup. When processing emails in My Inbox, any that need further action other than Reply, Delete or Archive, I move to To Process. My Other label is to put any non-customer related emails in there based on some filters I have setup.

Create Filter

We need to create a filter to put any emails that come into your Inbox into your new Inbox, and mark them as Read.

  1. Under Settings -> Filters, Create a new Filter
  2. Enter in:inbox into the Has Words section
  3. Click Next Step
  4. On the next page click “Skip Inbox”, “Mark as Read” and “Apply the Label: (your new label)”.
  5. Click Create Filter

Note: You may get the following warning stating it is not recommended, but it works! So click OK to proceed. Just make sure this filter is always the last filter in your list else it may not work.