My Email Bliss


Back in September I wrote a post entitled Making Email Efficient about how much I detest the distraction of email and what I’ve done to minimize that distraction without hurting our business.

The quote I posted from Tim Ferris pretty much sums up how I feel:

E-mail (and all of its Crackberry/digital leash/Twitter cousins) is the largest single interruption in modern life. In a digital world, creating time therefore hinges on minimizing e-mail.

Since then I’ve made some major improvements.  Here is the addendum to that post, particularly to #4 “Only receive emails that you need.”

I had two big problems:

  1. I had waaaaay too many email addresses.  One for and one for each one of our sites (DI, SL, iPrioritize, Music-Alerts, this blog, etc).  Not to mention addresses like payments [at] sportslizard [dot] com which go to me as well.   I couldn’t access email anywhere else besides Thunderbird on my laptop, and if I ever needed to re-configure that on another computer it would take an eternity to do so.
  2. I got far too many emails that didn’t require my action.  Things like email newsletters, order confirmations, and results of cron jobs (automated scripts on our server).   This caused me to panic every time I opened my inbox and saw 127 emails…even if I only needed to reply to 7 of them.

Both had pretty simple solutions, which in hindsight has left me wondering why I didn’t take care of them sooner:

  1. I forwarded every email account to the adam [at] pureadapt [dot] com email.  Regardless of how people reach me, they get a reply from that email account with the following signature:


    And since the Pure Adapt email address is now hosted with Google through Google Apps for Business, I can check the emails from anywhere by just logging into my Google Account.  If I’m using a different computer regularly, I can set up IMAP and use Thunderbird (my preferred email client).

  2. Using Gmail Filters, I auto-filter out any types of emails that I do not need to act upon:
    • Newsletters (~30/day) – any newsletters that I receive.
    • E-commerce receipts (~75/day) – sales receipts for any orders that come through TD/DI. This filter doesn’t filter out any of the alerts I have set up for odd sales.
    • SL Subscriptions (~20/day) – payments and subscription notices related to the SportsLizard Price Guide
    • Cron jobs (~50/day) – the results of server scripts that run daily to do things like set our daily special or send follow-up emails to customers.
    • This took me about 20 minutes to set up one morning (all mail clients have similar filters or rules that enable you to do the same). Now my inbox only includes items that require my action and I check the other ones about once per day (and my SPAM filter every 2-3 days).

In conjunction with the other rules – especially #1 “Check email twice per day on weekdays, once per day on weekends” – I now no longer detest opening my email.  I’m able to fly through the important emails and read the rest whenever I get a chance.  Now after 10 years of constantly dreading email, I finally kind of enjoy it!

8 comments on My Email Bliss

  1. Joe says:

    how do you set such a dynamic signature in gmail?

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Joe – great question. I don’t actually. I use Thunderbird as my mail client and that allows you to use any HTML file with CSS in it for nice styling like my sig.

    I very rarely send emails via the Gmail interface, but if I do I just copy and paste it from one of my prior emails as opposed to using their signature feature that doesn’t allow for HTML.

    If you do want HTML in your signature in Gmail, you can use a Firefox add-on like

    Hope that helps,


  3. Joe says:

    thanks- that is what I was guessing but I was hoping I was wrong…

  4. Adam McFarland says:

    Your welcome Joe. You’d think with all of the wacky features Gmail has, that they’d put a higher priority in providing something as common as HTML signatures. It’s not like it’s all that hard to program relative to everything else Gmail does!

  5. […] out unnecessary email.  I auto-filter out emails like newsletters and receipts from our e-commerce stores, and check those folders less frequently […]

  6. Kenneth M says:

    wow, good point of view.

  7. […] like “remember to check on backups”. I’ve grown into being very strict with how often I check and answer my email. Those things are pretty […]

  8. […] written before about how I handle my email. I still think that the majority of people leave their inbox open all […]

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