Google Priority Inbox and Why I hopefully won't need it.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
Google made the news last week in an effort to stay ahead of the Microsofts (Read: uh-oh, Outlook 2010 has a lot of our features - how can be innovate further?) with its introduction of the Priority Inbox. Designed to act as your own personal secretary, Priority Inbox can be trained to sort your most important messages to the top, leaving those you don't need to worry immediately about at the bottom. I like the idea, will use it, but hopefully, will barely notice a difference. More on why after the jump.

How it works
Whenever you receive new mail, Google makes a decision as to whether or not it's deemed a priority. If so, the message will be placed at the top of your inbox. Now, to help Google, you will notice "plus" and "minus" icons to label messages as more or less important. For those who have TiVo at home, this functionality essentially mimics the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" that you use to train your DVR. Very simple and elegant, and soon, Google sorts your messages based on its determinations along with your rankings.

Now, take a look at my Inbox
All of this is very useful for those who have dozens, perhaps hundreds of emails sitting unread in their mailbox. For me, I try to subscribe to a theory known as "Inbox Zero" where I work very hard to keep the number of emails in my inbox down to the absolute minimum. As soon as emails come in, I make a decision on how to process them (create a task, reply, archive, or delete). Thus, every email goes through triage and gets sorted, so Google's Prioritizing does not seem as relevant anymore.

Inbox Zero keeps me sane, or does it?
As you can imagine, I'm never too far from my email. Although I'm certain that keeping my Inbox at a minimum helps me stay organized, focused, and responsive to those who need to contact me, I would like to explore the possibilities of checking my Inbox less frequently with the goal of spending more time away from the computer. Google Priority Inbox could help in this quest, and perhaps, coupled with a notification system (alerts for only priority emails), I could see weening myself away from consistent checking, especially as the due date of our newborn son rapidly approaches.

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