Email Filters

I wrote this post almost a week ago, and it was scheduled to go up two days ago. At some point in between, I changed its status from “scheduled” to “draft”, because . . . it is SO not related to what’s going on now. Who cares about emails and annoying people? But yesterday I took a look at my home page and realized that there were two half-posts about normal life, and *everything* else was terror related. That’s fine – it’s a big part of life at the moment. But it’s not fine, because the purpose of this blog isn’t just to talk about terror. And so I present to you “regular” post.

For a long time, I’ve felt a need to answer every phone call, text, and email – right away.

I’ve gotten better about the phone calls. Shlomo sometimes tells me, when I’m in the bathroom, changing a diaper, or otherwise busy, that the phone is ringing. I tell him, “I know it, but I can’t answer the phone right now. If it’s Abba [Yitzchak], I’ll talk to him when I’m done. If it’s someone important, they’ll call back. And if it’s not important, there’s no reason to run to answer it, anyways.”

Usually, it’s Yitzchak – for the simple reason that he’s the one who calls most often. However, Yitzchak also knows that I miss a lot of phone calls. So he’ll either call the other phone (the house phone, if I missed a call on my cell phone, or vice versa), or text – or just wait until I call back.

All I can hope is that Shlomo learns this valuable lesson. Technology is there to serve us. We are not here to serve it.

Texts are harder, but I’m pretty good at those, too. Often, I read a text and think to myself that I need to text back – except that I forget about it until a day or two later. Oops. This means that when I’m not 100% into my tech-serves-me mode, I’ll text back, as inconvenient as that may be.

Email is harder. It sits in your inbox and stares you in the face. This is good, if it’s a business email that you need to respond to. But there are some emails that aren’t business, aren’t urgent, and are just . . . there. You know what I’m talking about.

Grandma who wants to chat. Dad who sent back a lengthy email, and I’m too tired to respond properly. The annoying relative who likes to stick her nose in your business. The person who, no matter, what knows how to drive you berserk with every benign email you try to send her – or don’t send her. Those ones.

Granted, you really should get back to 80-year-old Grandma, and Dad is definitely not at fault that you’re tired. But the annoying people . . . seriously? They can wait. But those are the hardest – because they push your buttons, you want to push back. It’s incredibly difficult to tell yourself, “Be the mature person. There’s no one to talk to. Just let her think she’s had the last word, and ignore the email.”

And maybe you should just delete those emails? No, of course you can’t . . . what if someone needs your help? What if there’s news in there that you want, or need, to hear? And if you delete the emails . . . you’ll never know what that person said . . . it’s much better to at least know, isn’t it?

So in walk the email filters. As an aside, we have several email accounts, and most of them are linked to two main Gmail accounts. From those Gmail accounts, we can receive (through forwarding) and reply (through alias) email that went to other, less-used accounts. This means less accounts to check per day, and less headaches, without giving up any of the accounts.

The two exceptions are my husband’s InsightBB account, and my Hotmail account . . . and they are exceptions because we haven’t figured out how to set up the forwarding/alias with them yet. But maybe it’s as easy as doing it with Gmail accounts. Maybe I should try.

Do I want to try? Maybe not.

Tonight, after an email argument with a person I shouldn’t have started an email conversation with in the first place, shouldn’t have answered promptly (instead of giving myself a few days to calm down), and shouldn’t have paid attention to her attempts to twist my arm – I set up my first Hotmail filter.

This is what I did. Hotmail filters are called “rules”. I made a “rule,” that all emails from will first of all go straight to the “X” folder, and second of all be marked as “read.” At first, I was thinking to simply send the emails to the X folder. But I knew that seeing an unread email in that folder would tempt me, so at the last minute, I added an “action” to the “rule” and told Hotmail to mark the emails as read.

I’ll still get the emails. I’ll still be able to see what they’ve emailed me.

But the pressure is gone. I won’t have new, unread, stressful emails in my inbox, staring me in the face.

When I have time, and I have energy, I’ll check my X folder and see if and what XPerson has sent. Maybe I’ll reply; maybe I won’t; maybe I’ll reply at a later date. But there’s no pressure, no worries about the fact that I’m being rude . . . because, after all, if it’s sat there for a week or two, it can sit there for another few.

I’ve made filters for other people, too. They’ve included labels, forwarding, and marking the original as read. But I’ve never made a label marking something as unread and removing it from the inbox to a folder.

It feels incredibly freeing.

Now the real test, is if I can forget to check the X folder for a few weeks . . . and forget about maybe being found out when someone who knows someone who tells someone reads this blog.

(As an aside, I remember clearly having a friend come up to me at a gathering and say, “You have a blog, right? You’re C and your blog is B.” And I had no idea what to reply, except for, “Um, yeah. Um, how did you know?” It wasn’t this blog, though. It was my teen blog.)

Due to the high volume of spam, I am forced to enable comment moderation. Sorry about that!

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