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.

One Inbox Zero

Who is this for? Those who are deciding between merging all of their inboxes or keeping their various email accounts separate.

On a recent episode of Mikes on Mics, my co-host, Mike Vardy, and I discussed our respective approaches to managing our email inboxes. Both of us maintain multiple accounts spanning our personal and professional worlds, but Vardy keeps his various email inboxes separate while I prefer to combine everything into a single inbox.

Tomorrow I will touch on the exact tools and tactics I use, but to start I want to explain why this approach works for me. I also want to give some background which may help you decide if this approach is for you.

I receive a fair amount of email. I average over 100 messages a day. I have multiple addresses that center around my job, a few for various web projects, a purely personal account and what’s known as a bacon account.

There’s nothing wrong with using multiple inboxes. In fact, Vardy makes a valid case for keeping things separate, but here is why I opt for a one inbox approach.

Processing More Less

Getting into a regular Inbox Zero practice helped me stay on top of email but was a challenge with multiple email accounts. Early on I always felt as if I was constantly neglecting one inbox or another. I also felt like too much time was spent jumping between accounts (and remembering which accounts had and had not been checked). I went down to three accounts that consolidated emails from work, my personal life and my various web projects, but even this felt like too much. So eventually I rolled everything into a single account. Even though I potentially see more emails in a single sitting, I only have one place to check and feel better about checking it less often. I also never worry if I am neglecting any one particular email account.

One Person One Voice

Despite the fact that there will often be a clear difference in the way that I talk to a friend, a stranger or colleague, I don’t like to over think the tone I take when responding to emails as I process my inbox. By having personal and professional emails sitting side by side, I don’t give myself enough space to worry about which part of my persona should respond. I just focus on the best possible response. Some people prefer to have one voice for personal emails and another for professional correspondence. There’s nothing wrong with this. I’ve just found it to be more efficient to blur the line.

One Search To Rule Them All

As my personal and professional lives continue to merge and as my memory grows ever worse, I’ve come to count on search more than I would care to admit. When I had multiple accounts, I often found myself jumping from one to another seeking a message from a friend who sent a message to my work email or a colleague who accidentally sent a work email to my personal account. One inbox means one repository. When I search, all of the correspondence with that person comes up. It gives me a more comprehensive archive of messages and saves me from ever having to wonder where a specific message lives.

Making One Inbox Manageable

While I plan to talk about the exact tools I’m using and how you can go about setting things up in an upcoming post, there are a few general best practices for applying a one inbox approach to your work.

The first is to ensure that whatever desktop or mobile applications you use properly handle what are known as domain aliases. These allow you to control the reply-to address with little to no thought. You can set these up so that messages automatically respond from the same address they were sent from, you can group multiple accounts so that they respond to a single address or you can have everything respond from the same email account.

Consider setting up filters that group related accounts. I use a Gmail label to wrap up all of the work-related emails. This way, if I really need to focus or have a heavy load on a particular day, I can just filter out unread messages using my Work label and not see a single unnecessary message.

Mercilessly unsubscribe from nonsense. A one inbox approach will increase the amount of emails you see when you check email. Mitigate this by unsubscribing from any and all unnecessary notifications, superfluous email newsletters or spam that finds its way into your inbox. This takes effort in the short term, but in the long run it leads to far less nonsense that to process.

Getting To One Inbox

This approach takes a bit of setup, but once it’s up and running, you can send, receive and store emails from all of your accounts in one place with ease. If you’re at all curious about how to setup a single email inbox, check back for the next post or subscribe for free to the feed for a walkthrough of the tools I use to effectively manage all of my email in a single inbox.

The Evolution of Email

Who is this for? Those looking to see where email is — and email applications are — really headed.

Email is changing, and I’m happy about that because it certainly needs to change.

Look at the apps we’re seeing hitting the landscape:

All of these apps are asking you to treat email differently. Some are asking you to foster relationship with those you communicate with via the platform, humanizing email more in the process (Cloze falls into this category) while others are trying to legitimately morph the platform into a task management utility (nearly all of the others I’ve mentioned above).

Apps like Asana, Flow, and IQTell are also bringing communication into their apps so that you can steer clear of the seemingly inescapable email inbox and focus on “the real work” instead. They’ve taken the idea of electronic communication and are finding a way to make it work within their own platforms rather than trying to merge the idea of a task management app and an email app into a whole new type of app (which I would call an “email management” app). Honestly, Cloze is the only one of the apps that covers all communication bases rather than just email, which means it becomes a communication inbox rather than an email inbox. I like that idea, but it’s a hard one to get used to.

Why?

Because Cloze doesn’t have the same functionality (yet) of apps like Outlook, Mail.app, Gmail, Postbox, and so on. That is a barrier to entry for a lot of people to use Cloze consistently – myself included.

It seems to me that people either want to be able to do everything within heir email app (in other words, have an email management app) or steer clear of it as much as possible. I’m a fan of the latter, but I am not blind to the appeal of the former. The learning curve may not be much different (especially since you may have to learn a whole new app for email management), but the idea of having two places to manage your “stuff” – and email application and a a task management application – is a challenging thing for me to sell – and for many to buy into.

So … what’s the real evolution?

No matter what way you decide to go, the answer is that you must deal with email as it is checked. It can’t stay in your inbox. It needs to go somewhere – and that means you perform the action associated with it, store it for later, forward it to someone else, or delete it. That’s it. Once you start treating email that way, then it doesn’t matter what you use because you will be treating your email better. By doing that, you’re treating others, your work, and yourself better.

That means the evolution isn’t the apps you have … but the approach you take.

Mailbox-Like Email Deferment on a Mac →

Who is this for? Mailbox users who would like a similar ability to defer emails while ensuring they come back into the inbox on a Mac. Keyboard Maestro and a Mac that is always on are required.

From Jeff Hunsberger:

What I needed was something that did what Mailbox did so well; when a trigger event occurred, it would move the email back to the Inbox. This move was essentially flagging the email to indicate that the email needed to be dealt with again.

As so often happens, Keyboard Maestro offered a solution. On my Mac Mini “mail robot” (if you don’t have a Mac Mini home server, you’re missing out – those things are really useful), I set up a Keyboard Maestro macro that selected anything in the Later box and moved it to the Inbox every day at 7:30PM. The result is a flexible and extensible workflow that simulates what Mailbox does except with my Fastmail account. Problem solved for now.

While this requires a Mac that is always on, it’s a clever way to get emails out of your way while ensuring that they do not get overlooked. Jeff’s Keyboard Maestro macro is setup for Mail.app, but could easily be adapted for several mail clients including Mailplane or the Gmail web interface. This is a nice stop gap, but it makes one hopeful for a Mailbox plugin for Gmail.

Better Gmail and Evernote Integration with Powerbot

Who is this for? Those who use the Gmail interface for email and calendaring, but store files, notes and agendas in Evernote.

I currently use Mailplane to send email threads to Evernote, but for those who live in their browser Powerbot for Gmail takes things to the next level. You can save new and received email messages to Evernote with ease. You can also attach notes to an email without having to leave the Gmail interface. It’s pretty slick.

There’s also Powerbot for Google Calendar. It lets you create a template for your meeting notes or agenda in Evernote when creating or accepting a new calendar event.

There is one downside, Powerbot is only available as a browser extension for Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. If – like me – you use an application like Mailplane for email or Fantastical for scheduling, you won’t be able to take advantage of this integration between Gmail and Evernote.

Here’s hoping that Powerbot has future plans that look beyond the browser.

Hat tip to the Evernote Blog