Email Newsletter Zero

Who is this for? Gmail users looking to automatically forward email newsletters from a specific sender into Instapaper.

Many say that your inbox should be a sacred place. I agree with the sentiment but suggest tweaking the phrasing slightly: Your email inbox should be a specific place.

For me this means that the emails that arrive—especially those I choose to receive—should drive me towards a specific action (e.g., answer this or click that). It’s not an ideal place to send something that I’m primarily meant to read and enjoy.

With the recent introduction of HappyLetter, many trusted and unwitting mentors have introduced email newsletters. These newsletters are exactly what I want, they just happen to arrive in the place where I want them least… my inbox.

When it comes to these kinds of recurring emails, I take an automated approach. I don’t want to miss these newsletters, so I forward them into Instapaper using a filter in Gmail. If, like me, you’re expecting to see a significant increase in the number of newsletters you plan to read, here’s how you can keep them out of your inbox while ensuring you don’t miss a single word of wisdom.

Note: The following process is for those using both Gmail and Instapaper, but it should be possible to set the same thing up with any email client and any read-it-alter service that accepts submissions via email.

Step 1: Find Your Instapaper Email Address

This part could not be easier. Go to Instapaper, sign in and click on the How to Save link. You can also click here to go directly to the How to Save page.

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Then scroll down until you see the section that has aptly been titled Add Content to Instapaper by Email and copy your account’s email address (I’d also suggest making a contact out of this address. That way you can forward individual emails into Instapaper with ease).

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Step 2: Add Instapaper as a Forwarding Email

Next we’re going to add our Instapaper email address as a forwarding address. You need to do this before you can use the address to create your filter. Go to the settings screen (you do this by clicking the gear icon in Gmail), select Forwarding and POP/IMAP and then select Add a forwarding address.

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Paste in your Instapaper email address and click Next.

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Gmail will now ask you to verify that this is your account. Since you used your Instapaper email address, you will find the email confirmation alongside your Unread Instapaper articles. You can either copy the code they provide or just click the link to verify the email address.

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If you have any trouble with the link, just paste in the code and click Verify back on the settings screen where you first started adding the forwarding address.

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Before moving on, make sure that forwarding is disabled, otherwise all of your emails will be sent to Instapaper.

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Step 3: Get The From Email of Your Email Newsletter

Once again, this could not be more straightforward. Find a previous edition of the email newsletter and copy the From address onto your clipboard.

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Step 4: Create Your Gmail Filter

Now we’re going to create our filter. First go to the settings screen, then select the Filters tab and click on the blue Create a new filter link.

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If you’re only doing one email, all you need to do is paste the From email address into the From field. If you’re doing multiple email newsletters you can separate them with OR (e.g., Name@Example1.com OR Name@Example2.com OR Name@Example3.com). Once you’re done, click Create filter with this search.

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All that’s left is to tell Gmail what to do with these messages. Set Forward it to: as the Instapaper forwarding address we set up earlier, check Skip the Inbox (Archive it) and Mark as read, and then click Create Filter.

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And that’s it. From here on out, all of these emails will bypass your inbox and appear in your Instapaper account.

Yet To Subscribe To Any Newsletters?

If you’ve yet to try out any of these new premium email newsletters, I’d suggest This Could Help from Patrick Rhone and The Writer’s Whip from Randy Murray. I’m really enjoying these projects, especially now that they are out of my inbox and arriving in Instapaper where they get the attention and consideration they deserve.

How To Merge All Of Your Inboxes Into One

Who is this for? Anyone looking for step-by-step directions for merging all of your email inboxes into a single Gmail account.

As promised, I’m going to walk you through the initial setup and tools I use to manage a single inbox.

The Service

A Google Apps for Business account serves as the backbone of my email setup. This costs $50 for a single email address. The account offers 30GB of storage, the search cannot be beat and—if you’re a fan of their interface—the keyboard shortcuts are fantastic. It also makes it easy to setup and maintain a one inbox approach.

The Setup

Step 1. Select a primary email address. First things first, choose an email address you plan on having for a very long time. Don’t worry if you need to make a change down the road, though. It takes some effort, but if you ever find that you need to move from one primary account to another, you can always use a service like Backupify’s Migrator for Google Apps to move your data from one Google Apps account to another.

Step 2. Start forwarding alternate email accounts. You should begin forwarding messages into this primary account. This process will vary by email provider. If you’re using an alternate Gmail account, you can do this by clicking on the gear icon in Gmail, clicking on Settings and then clicking on the Forwarding and Pop/IMAP tab. Click on Add a forwarding address and add your primary email account.

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You will need to confirm that you own this address by email. Once you receive this verification, click on the link to confirm that you own the account. Now you will be able to set Forward a copy of incoming mail to your primary inbox. You should also decide what you would like to do with the emails in this account. I would suggest archiving messages rather than deleting them in case you ever decide to go back to separate email accounts.

Step 3. Setup your additional Send Mail As addresses. Next you need to setup proper reply-to email addresses for every account you own (these are also known as domain aliases). This ensures that, when using Gmail, a message will respond from the correct account (or whatever account you specify). Go into the settings panel in your primary Gmail account. You can do this by going to your inbox, clicking on the gear and then selecting Settings. Once you’re in the settings go to Accounts to make sure that When replying to a message: is set to Reply from the same address the message was sent to and then select Add another email address you own.

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Enter your address and leave Treat as an alias checked. You can Specify a different “reply-to” address if needed, otherwise an email will reply from the email address it was sent from when using the Gmail interface.

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You will be asked to verify each email address. If you’ve already setup the forwarding, these messages should arrive in your primary inbox.

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Enter the verification code and you’re good to go.

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Step 4. Add some labels (optional). While not necessary, I’ve found that the strategic use of labels can be helpful, especially since I have several email accounts. All work related emails (which accounts for over half of my email addresses) get the same label. This allows me to filter out all work only messages. I don’t use this all that often, but it’s a valuable tool on the days where I cannot even consider checking personal messages when processing my inbox. To do this, go back to the Settings menu, select Filters and click Create a new filter.

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Include the email addresses you would like to apply a label to in the To field. You can do this for a single email address or create a filter for multiple addresses by placing OR between each email address (i.e. Work@Email.com OR OtherWork@Email.com OR YetAnotherWork@Email.com).

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Once you’ve added your email addresses click on Create filter with this search. Last but not least, click on Apply the label and select your label (or create a new one). Once you create the filter, all messages received from this account (or accounts) will automatically include the correct label when it arrives in your inbox.

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The Apps

Not all applications honor these domain aliases (including the built in mail applications on OS X and iOS), so be sure to confirm that your email application of choice honors these settings. My preferred apps are Mailplane on the Mac and Mailbox on iOS.

Mailplane essentially wraps the Gmail web interface into its own application, so there are no additional settings required.

Mailbox just added Gmail domain aliases in a recent update. Click on settings, select your email account and choose Gmail Aliases. From there you’ll have to add each address manually. You only have to do this once as your aliases will sync across the Mailbox app on various devices. Be sure to test that all of your domain aliases are working properly. For some reason, I had to completely close the application and reopen it to get things working. Excluding this one hiccup, I haven’t had a single issue since.

The Day-To-Day Use

Once this is all set, there will be no more checking multiple inboxes and no more worrying if you replied from the correct address. You’ll want to be careful when creating new messages as most email applications default to your primary account, but all of your responses are handled perfectly. The setup takes some time and effort, but it makes juggling far too many email accounts far easier.

The One Thing Google Reader Users Should Do Today

Who is this for? Anyone who is yet to do anything about the imminent shutdown of Google Reader. Regardless if you plan to do nothing or aren’t sure what to do.

Google Reader goes away for good on Monday, July 1st 2013. If you’re still not sure what to do (join the club) or are yet to do anything, I’d like to offer one piece of advice: download your data.

Even if you don’t try another service, even if you are declaring RSS bankruptcy. Take five minutes, go to Google Takeout and download an archive of your data. You may be happy with your current solution, you may end up doing nothing, but if you have your archive, you have options.

Not sure how to do this? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here is a step-by-step guide to download your Google Reader data.

Be sure to do this before Monday or it will be too late.

Backing Up Your Google Reader Data and RSS Subscriptions

Note: We’ve also made this guide available as a PDF with screenshots in case you’d like to print it out or forward it to a friend. Click here to download.

  1. Go to Google Takeout and login.
  2. Do not click Create Archive at the bottom of the page. Select Choose services instead.
  3. Select Reader.
  4. Click Create Archive.
  5. You will be taken to the “Downloads” page. Your data takes a little time to create (mine took about 5 minutes or so).
  6. You can either request to be emailed when the file is ready (do this by checking the box on the lower left hand side of the page) or wait until the file finishes building.
  7. Once your data is ready you will receive your email notification (if you followed the step above) or the Cancel button will change to Download.
  8. Click on Download.
  9. You will be asked to sign in again, do so.
  10. Click Download one more time to get your Google Reader data.

Click here to download this walkthrough with screenshots.

The Front End Work

Who is this for? Those who don’t completely buy into the idea of setting up a workflow for enhanced productivity.

There’s always a challenge in getting people to escape their email inboxes or go beyond their to-do lists (hat tip: Erik Fisher), but it’s a challenge that is worth tackling because establishing a larger framework is essential to improving overall productivity. Essentially, that larger framework is a workflow – a framework that can also consist of smaller workflows if desired. Right now, the desire should simply be to establish the first framework – the bigger one – so that you can ultimately be more productive because that initial sell is the hardest.

Why?

Because no one really wants to do what I call the “front end work”.

The front end work doesn’t offer any instant gratification. In fact, it delays the gratification you’d get by simply crossing items off of your to-do list. The front end work is difficult. It’s a tough slog and it involves a lot of of setting up a system to help manage your work rather than tearing down each bit of work as you no longer need to do it. The front end work is a project unto itself, and it’s the most important project you can take on because it can will lead to greater successes with future projects – whether that seems immediately apparent or not.

The front end work comes first.

Instead of writing down a simple to-do list today, write down what you need to have in place to make sure your to-do list holds more meaning and depth. Whether you intend to use analog or digital products as part of your workflow, set them up first so they can be the foundation that you can gather your projects and tasks in. Don’t overdo it. Make it simple so it doesn’t seem so difficult to set up and implement.

Do the front end work now, and you’ll be able to get a whole lot more done later.

Note: Workflowing is building a set of resources that will help you with this front end work. As with anything, those resources will change and grow. We’ll keep it updated regularly, because we want to help you set things up for yourself so that you don’t get upset with yourself when things don’t get done as well as you know you can do them.

The Right Note at the Right Time with Evernote Reminders

Who is this for? Those looking for a better way to recall important reference materials at a specific time or date.

From the Evernote Blog:

Reminders are here. Our three most requested features rolled into one small package:

  • In-app and email Alarms
  • Quick note based to-do lists
  • Pinning notes to the top of your note list

The Reminders feature is currently available on Evernote for Mac, iOS and Evernote Web.

The list features will likely only appeal to power users of the application, but there’s a lot to be excited about with the addition of in-app and email alarms.

Applications like Mailbox make it possible to have an email return at a specific time and the powerful search in Evernote makes it possible to find a well named needle in a haystack, but there’s never been a seamless solution where your tools remind you of essential information at the exact right moment. Especially if you tend to store that information in Evernote.

When someone emails me a meeting agenda and relevant attachments, they all go into a note in Evernote. In the past I’d then create an OmniFocus tasks that links to this, but the new in-app or alarm feature significantly streamlines the process. Now when creating the note, I can set a reminder and have the information I need return to me at exactly the right moment.

Reminders only currently exist within the Evernote applications themselves. I hope we don’t have to wait too long to see this functionality make its way to the Evernote web and email clippers. More often than not, the types of notes that warrant a reminder are created in my web browser or email application, so it would be helpful to set an alarm without ever having to enter Evernote.

Regardless, Reminders is a great new addition to an already powerful and useful tool.

Moving from iPhoto to Dropbox

Who is this for? Those looking to move their images out of iPhoto and into Dropbox.

For those who were tempted by Unbound, here are two ways to make the move from iPhoto to Dropbox: