Distraction-Free GMail-ing

Tell me if this has happened to you: you need to email someone about something important, so you hop into your mail program to fire off the email. However, the first thing you see upon firing up Thunderbird/Eudora/Mail is your inbox, and in it you see a few tasty subjects that have you clicking away and laughing. You spend 30 minutes processing the emails, get ready to shut down the computer and head home, and then…oh, I forgot to actually send that email.

This happens to me multiple times a day, and I’d sort of accepted it as the inevitable price that point-and-click has exacted from my brain. In fact, the reason I’m writing this post is because IT JUST HAPPENED AGAIN. But it occurred to me that I have a solution, thanks to my current email setup.Some time ago I had dumped my desktop mail clients and switched everything to Google Apps, which had several advantages for me:

  • Google’s servers now handle my mail. Before, my (dv) handled it, and it’s a huge administrative headache due to the incredible volume of spam that’s sent. I also still get to use my domain name, davidseah.com, in my email addresses, thanks to the magic of MX records.
  • My mail is basically GMail, and so I get superior spam protection.
  • It also comes with Calendar, Docs, and other things that are useful.
  • It doesn’t cost anything, other than the ethical cost of allowing Google’s spiders to sift my mail so they can hit me with context-sensitive sidebar ads.
  • I can now access my mail from any browser on any computer, and not worry about synchronizing messages

It’s this last feature, plus my use of a cross-platform “private landing page” with all my common bookmarks, that makes it possible to jump directly to the compose window of my gmail. In other words:

  1. If I avoid seeing my inbox when I’m composing mail, I’m less likely to be distracted.
  2. If I link directly to the compose function of GMail, I can avoid seeing my inbox.
  3. Productivity ensues! :-)

This is not a grand revelation by any stretch, but it’s Friday and feel like sharing it :-)

You can grab the URL from GMail directly by clicking the Compose Mail link and copying it. For mine:

For Google Apps:

https://mail.google.com/a/davidseah.com/#compose

For GMail:

https://mail.google.com/mail/#compose

This presumes that your gmail account is set to remember that you’re logged in, which is the way I run mine. And replace davidseah.com in the first example with your own domain that’s been set-up for Google Apps.

On my personal landing page, I now have a URL called “Compose Mail” that points to the links above. I’m hoping it cuts down on the amount of distraction, so I can send an email FIRST, then be distracted after the fact. Ideally I shouldn’t see the inbox at all, of course, after sending mail, but this is a useful first pass.