On one hand, every business expert, efficiency guru, and work-life balance practitioner touts the value of multi-tasking. On the other hand, the constant interruption of your workflow by your email notification system can be distracting. Most people are looking for a way to balance the management of their inbox with the need to focus on one project or item at a time. Personally, I have been searching for a solution that will allow me to work in my Gmail web client while freezing any incoming email notifications.
Finally a solution that works great: Inbox Pause.
When I used Outlook as my email tool, I could easily freeze any incoming communications. At BrightGauge, we’re all about Gmail and Google Docs (more about that in a later post), so I was struggling to find a similar tool for this platform. Early this year, I took the advice of productivity experts and began answering emails in batches. My brother then followed suit and asked for help finding an alternative to Offline Mode in Gmail. I was convinced that finding a way to delay emails was the key to being more focused and more productive during the day.
I tried a number of crazy hacks, but nothing worked for me. One solution was to disconnect from the internet for extended periods of time, but this was challenging since my other business apps are “in the cloud” and I need the Internet to access them. I recently spent a long flight from Miami to LA without Internet access, and found the experience to be both frustrating and challenging. I tried Gmail Offline, which was a serviceable backup, but you need to ensure that your emails are synched. On the aforementioned LA flight, I only had access to my synched emails- which were eight months old.
An option of last resort was to simply close my email client window, and then type my draft emails in a Google Doc. This worked fine, as long as I didn’t need access to my email inbox. This proved to be more complicated than it was worth.
One day I saw a blog post on TechCrunch about Inbox Pause. I downloaded the plug in for Chrome, and voila, I’m back in control of my email box. The app works by simply adding a ‘Pause” button to your Gmail dashboard. When engaged, new messages will not be delivered to your Inbox. The messages will be held with a special label so you can easily retrieve and answer them when you’re ready. You can also set up a notification so that Inbox Pause will let people know their correspondence is temporarily on hold. Once you “unpause” the application, your emails will be delivered.
Inbox Pause is a great tool to help you effectively and efficiently manage your email. If you can be overwhelmed by email messages, I’d encourage you to check it out.