43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

4-1/2 tiny ways to master Mail.app

  1. Turn off auto-checking, or set it to "Every hour"
    • yes, it's a classic, thanks
    • In Mail.app, go to "Mail > Preferences... > General"
  2. Turn off the "New Mail" sound
    • Same place as above
    • And, while you're there, also unclick "Play sounds for other mail actions" -- it's not a goddamned pinball machine
  3. Turn on Dock Hiding
    • "[Apple] > System Preferences > Dock" and click "Automatically show and hide the Dock"
  4. Hide Mail.app
    • In Mail.app: "Mail > Hide Mail"

The one-half tiny way? Well, if you're feeling really ballsy, you could just just Quit Mail.app for a few hours and, uh, just go work. Yeah, I know: your world would implode if you had two hours without email. You'd be fired, jailed, or might even miss that whole thread about lunch at Chili's vs. Applebee's. Friend, someday you will actually hear yourself defending your email addiction as a necessity, and it will seem very very weird to you. Bet me on it.

Seriously, though, suck it up and just check for new mail as seldom as your job and your patience will possibly permit. Really push the envelope on this, even just for half a day, and see if you don't notice a difference. The world actually can spin without you for a while (but just a little while).

Because I promise you there's always. more. email. coming. You are the single individual in this entire universe who gets to decide how often you deal with an inbox that is utterly bottomless. Own that, and you've taken the most important step toward using email as a tool (instead of the other way 'round).

Mark Grimes's picture

I have to disagree with...

I have to disagree with this if your job using email as a catalyst for re-prioritizing projects. Often I have a boss at my office door saying did you get my email, I sent it 5 min ago. The best way I've learned to handle email is using technologies like Growl. Sure email arrives all the time, but I tend to dismiss anything that does sort it's way down into a mailbox from the higher ups with growl notification. That is also allowing yourself to control your email without it controlling you. I think shutting it off is a bad idea for anyone working any place where email is a primary catalyst of communication. You could be wasting your time working on next actions for a project that has been dropped in priority instead of working towards a goal that is currently hot.

There are just too many ways to handle/control email without turning it off completely. I've never found Growl to get in my way... not if you tweak it just for emails from high priority individuals and not everything.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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