I have switched to server-side processing as much as possible. I riffed off the basic “email productivity” guide from The Sweet Setup and created a set of rules.
I use FastMail server rules, but similar things could be accomplished via gmail or even a Mac running Mail with rules.
If anyone is interested I’ll detail more, but the basics are that mail gets organized from most important to least important. I have contact groups where I can stuff email addresses to categorize relative importance of people. This works for most of my mail.
You can then intersperse “glob” (catch-buckets) rules—like the receipts rule—if you don’t want to add everyone that might send you a receipt.
I have email actions loosely grouped by what I want to happen.
1 - Urgent - Wife, boss, AWS critical alerts, etc… fires
2 - Important - Things I need to sort through soon, but can wait for a sweep
3 - Desired - Things I don’t have to get to, but I want to (productivityguild emails)
4 - Default - Things I get, but might not need, or are accessible other ways too
5 - Meh - Things that I’m not sure why they are still set to trigger an email
6 - Ugh! - Things I should probably never have gotten
(Shawn goes into more detail in the e-paper)
So, in any email client I basically have a listing of emails in the following states:
1 - Urgent - Pinned (starred, flagged) in Inbox
2 - Important - Unread in Inbox
3 - Desired - (Marked as) Read in Inbox
4 - Default - Unread in Archive
5 - Meh - Unread in Trash
6 - Ugh! - Unread in Trash
I can now quickly triage mail with filters (or a glance since my Inbox is relatively clean—the screenshot above is a lie—I usually have less than 10) in two or three standard folders.
If anything is Pinned in Inbox we have a fire.
Else if anything is Unread in Inbox we have a sweep to do.
I can then process Read in Inbox when I have a little down time.
If I get extra time (a few times a week), I can sweep Unread in Archive.
If I have any Unread in Trash, I probably need to unsubscribe from a few things.