One Easy Inbox Hack That Kills Procrastination

kill email procrastination

Procrastination is a monster we all have to deal with. It’s so easy to see an email come in, read it, and decide you’ll come back to it later. But after a day or so, your inbox looks like a junkyard, littered with old and unfinished emails everywhere.

Smart inboxes in your email client are great tools for helping you to fight email procrastination and get things done.

You’re forced to act

The basics are simple. You want to create an inbox that only shows unread messages. (Once you read the email, it disappears.)

This means you’re forced to act on the email as soon as you read it. This doesn’t mean the email needs resolved, but it does mean you can process it with the trusted trio, or just act on it and get it done right now.

No matter what you do, you’re acting on the email and getting it out of your inbox.

Here’s how to set this up for Mail.app on Apple’s OS X.

How to Set it Up

1. Open up Mail.app. Next, click on the + sign in the bottom left corner and select New Smart Mailbox

screen shot of smart mailbox set-up menu

2. Give your inbox a good inspiring name like Get It Done! Inbox. This is what you will see in the sidebar.

screen shot of smart mailbox set-up dialogue box

Set the conditions as follows:

  • The first condition should be “Message is in mailbox.” Then select the inbox you want to use.
  • Click the + sign at the end of the line to add another condition.
  • The second condition should be “Message is unread.”

With those set, your window should look like the one pictured above. Click OK when done.

3. Drag your new smart mailbox up to the favorites bar. This will make it accessible when the sidebar is hidden.

4. If you haven’t added your “trusted trio” folders to the toolbar, now is a good time to do that. Just drag and drop them into the top bar.

5. Select the new smart mailbox in the left sidebar, and then click the Hide button at the top of the window. This will hide the sidebar and only show you what comes up in your smart mailbox.

screen shot showing how to hide a mailbox

With this step done, your email window should look like this:

sample email window

Once you click on an email you’re forced to act on it immediately or else lose it.

The Results

Now that the rule is in place and Mail.app’s interface is adjusted, you’re good to go. As you read emails in this view and they are marked as read, they will stay visible until you close the Mail window.

When you open it back up any messages that were read but not moved somewhere will be gone.

It’s a good idea to unhide the side bar every 1-2 days to make sure you didn’t make a mistake and allow something to get hidden, but other than that, just work out of the new smart mailbox. If you see that you left something in there, act on it right then, don’t leave it till later.

Procrastination is a tough mountain to climb on your own, so use every tool at your disposal to make sure you get things done without waiting till later.

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