Category Archives: email

Happy Birthday Gmail

April 1st marked the 4 year anniversary of the launch of Gmail. This was a life changing event for me as it is the main reason I’m with Yahoo! and still in the US.

The launch on April Fool’s Day was genius. It generated a ton of buzz especially after it became clear that the product actually exists. Back then Google was all about search which made an email product launch very unlikely. Some people were confused or didn’t believe the story for weeks.

I have a Gmail account but don’t really use it. I don’t think I have logged in for the last 4 weeks (I’m going to now though). I work for Yahoo! Mail and know that product inside-out, every key-shortcut, search modifier and also some hidden features . And I truly prefer it to Gmail from a user experience point-of-view.

Thanks Google for mixing up the email space!

A Pause Button for my Email

Almost every article on improving your productivity recommends focusing your email activity on specific periods instead of checking your email every 10 minutes (or more frequently). While this is a great idea it doesn’t really work for me.

Most of my data is stored in email and I need my previously received messages as a data source. I can’t close my email for hours as it contains a lot of the information I need to work with. Now, what happens typically is what we all know all to well: I’m trying to find this one message and get distracted by incoming email. Before I know it I forget what I was actuallly looking for and wonder off.

The solution: Every email application needs a big pause button that temporarily suspends fetching new email! Sure, a similar result can be achieved by decreasing your fetch frequency in your settings. I wonder if there is a difference in behavior though when you consciously hit pause vs. just decreasing the frequency. You’re basically declaring that you want to focus on a task. And there is no doubt that there are no new messages. In the latter case there is always some uncertainty which might lead you to check.

I’ve been toying around with this idea for a few weeks now. Then this week a change on the corporate Mail server broke my Mail setup and I stopped receiving emails. It did indeed increase my focus and therefore productivity for a while as it reduced distractions. However once I realized that I’m not receiving any messages at all I started investigating what was up and trying to solve the problem. I’m not sure if there was a net benefit in productivity in the end. However it was good to experience that the world didn’t end just because I didn’t reply to any messages in 4 hours.

Zoë Email Application

I’ve been playing around with Zoë while exploring alternative email applications a while ago. I never really got into it even though the concept is really interesting. Last time I used it is 1 year ago!

In the meantime I have given up on installed email applications. I don’t like to be limited to one computer. I want access to all my email anytime and anywhere. The new Yahoo! Mail comes pretty close to desktop experience while not inheriting its limitations. But I’m biased…

I wonder if anyone picks up the Yahoo! Mail web service and implements a Zoë clone with it… Is anyone actively using Zoë? I think it’s time to uninstall for me…