So now I never see anything in my Gmail inbox, which is great for minimizing distractions. I can still go into Gmail and write messages, but without getting sidetracked by new messages in my inbox. Having a "zero" inbox means that I'm not tempted to check new messages. Now I can really stick to only checking my personal email once a day. I wait until the end of the day to look at my "process" label and respond to the messages then.
I restrict my Gmail account to personal mail, but I think this method might also be helpful to people who receive work mail.
Here's how to set up the filter.
- Go to the upper righthand corner of your Gmail screen and click on "Settings".
- Click on the tab "Filters".
- Towards the bottom of the screen, click on "Create new filter".
- In the "From:" field, type hyphen followed by your Gmail address, for example, "-email@example.com". This will prevent Gmail from marking your sent emails with the new label we are about to create. So any mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will not be affected and go to your Inbox normally. You can include several emails, for example, in the "From:" field, type "-email@example.com -firstname.lastname@example.org -email@example.com".
- Leave all the other fields blank and click on "Next Step".
- Gmail asks you to choose some actions. Select the following: "Skip the Inbox (Archive It)", "Mark as read", and "Apply the label:". For the "Apply the label" box, click on the drop-down box and select "New label". Enter a new label and click "OK". I called mine "process".
- Click "Update Filter" and you are done.
The excluded email addresses ("firstname.lastname@example.org" in this example) will not be affected and mail from this addresses are delivered to your Inbox. So you can include important addresses in the excluded list, for instance: "email@example.com". I know, for sure, that a list of hyphened addresses works, e.g. "-firstname.lastname@example.org -email@example.com -firstname.lastname@example.org". I have heard reports that using something fancier like wildcards and Boolean operators has problems.