The Path To #INBOXZERO

When I start to nerd out on the latest productivity app I’ve stumbled on people’s eyes usually just glaze over but when I tell people I have reached the holy grail of #inboxzero their eyes pop open wide then begin to flutter in a jealous haze.  What is #inboxzero well simply put it’s when you manage to empty the entire inbox of your email client.  If you’re like I was for years your inbox has become so inundated that you may have resorted to entirely turning off your mail’s app counter icon or notifications because it’s just too depressing.  Honestly any time I’ve ever bragged about being at inbox zero I’ve never met anyone else who claimed to be as well.  We’ve gotten so acclimated to the furious pace of incoming mail that we’ve become numb to it and have resorted to workarounds to filter out all the noise so important emails raise to the surface.  Most people develop their own methods for keeping track of the most important emails.  Personally my strategy was to simply mark every one as read then leave the most important ones marked as unread until it’s been properly dealt with.
My process to #inboxzero began with a now-shuttered app called Mailbox.  It started the trend of swiping to archive email or to snooze an email to return to your inbox at a later time or date.  It worked exclusively with gmail and Dropbox snagged it up and soon after shut it down.  Meanwhile Google created Inbox by Gmail.  Its secret sauce, borrowed liberally from Mailbox, is a balanced blend of purposeful swipes and automatic smart filtering that enables any user to easily tame the beast that is most people’s inboxes and keep it tamed.  Swipe right archives any email and swiping left snoozes any email until a later time or date of user’s choosing making it quick and painless to dismiss email on the fly.  For the bulk of your incoming mail Inbox smart filters will automatically filter out most emails into 6 main categories (purchases, finance, social, updates, forums, and promos).  You can archive entire categories or train certain emails to skip your inbox entirely and go straight to your archive.  You can go deeper and create your own categories if you like.  My favorite feature is the ability to mute any conversation (automatically archive emails from sender) by simply long pressing the option to archive (checkmark).
Inbox makes email meaningful again by filtering out the noise and allowing only those emails that actually merit your attention into your inbox.  If you’re a gmail power user and haven’t tried Inbox yet I highly recommend taking it for a test drive.
Other features include the ability to pin important emails, display Google Reminders, Google Now events like trip summaries, and a handy Chrome web extension for sharing or saving web links.   Finally Inbox will group emails not assigned to a category together.  So for example that weekly newsletter you get might get grouped together with every newsletter from that sender and appear as one email.  Selecting it unrolls all the emails in a stack with a summary of the most recent at the top of the stack.
There are other email clients that adopt many of the same features but not many are available across all major platforms like Inbox is.  Inbox shines best in Chrome while I primarily use the iOS version.  The iOS version, as is to be expected from Google, is pretty stable.  In contrast, I also use the Outlook App (which was actually Accompli before Microsoft snatched it up and rebranded it) for my MS accounts and it’s consistently glitchy.  In any case, a few hours spent with an app like Inbox can lead you to #inboxzero heaven!  What are you waiting for?
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TekFail | LastPass Won’t Give Me A Final Pass

1426316167_699481-icon-5-thumb-down-512Today’s TekFail comes courteous of LastPass the online password manager.  I’ve been using LastPass for the last couple of years and have come to love its simple interface and painless transition from Norton’s Password Vault.  Best of all it is free for the web version only.  Recently I’ve found myself stuck trying to sign into an app or website while away from my pc.  LastPass offers a premium version that allows you to access your entire vault of usernames and passwords securely from within its mobile app.  A couple of months ago I sprung for the chance at a free two month trial offer delivered to my inbox just to see if I could justify the paid leap.  At the end of two months I could not and simply let it expire.  This though was just not good enough for them.  The emails began a month before my trial period was over and so far continue more than three weeks since it ended.  In the final month I got six emails from them reminding me that my trial subscription was due to expire.  When I let it expire I expected at least one followup.  After three in a week I was fed up.  I’m all for a sales pitch, in fact it was their original sales pitch by email that got me to sign up for the trial period in the first place.  What irks me is nine emails in less than five weeks just to get me to renew.  It’s borderline harassment in my book.  It’s not like I quit using their service altogether.  A simple check of my account usage through a feeble query algorithm would’ve established that I was still using their online service.  Instead though I could count only a handful of emails in the last 2 years as a customer they’re now hounding me almost daily. This has decidedly turned me off as a customer almost completely.

On the 9th email about renewing my subscription I decided to fire back a reply.  In it I wrote simply, “I know already. You’re previous 8 emails told me so. Stop harassing me about it!”  I expected either a canned response about how to contact them for support or maybe even a mail undeliverable return reply.  What I got instead is the reason why I’ve given LastPass a TekFail today.  I got an email describing they’ve responded to my service ticket request.  Service ticket request..huh? That’s right they opened a customer service ticket based on my sarcastic response.  I again ignored this email.  Two days later I was emailed a reminder to the first email about my alleged service ticket request.  This time I read it and opened the link to the service ticket.  Naturally it offered me instructions on how to access my account settings and change my email preferences.  Incredulous!  It was also clear that it would likely continue to hound me unless I officially responded and closed the request.  I did and in the comments section I wrote, “The simple fact that you created a ticket for my snarky email shows that you just don’t get it. Point being that just because I’m a customer and I entrusted you with my email address doesn’t mean you have to abuse this trust. I’m not changing any settings. Just leave me alone.”  That last comment I think just about sums it up for me.  Companies and services think since you’ve entrusted them with your email address even as a customer paid or not they have cart blanche on spamming it.  News flash, if I’m already a customer and I continue using your service, be happy and just leave me alone already!