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This is an archived post from our old blog. It's here for the sake of posterity (and to keep the search engines happy). Our new blog can be found at

#Techtooltuesday: Inbox Pause

How many e-mails do you get in a day? 100? 200? 1,000? I know that it can certainly feel like that. What's worse is that there's no way to stop the perpetual onslaught of messages. Each time a new message pops up in your inbox, it's incredibly distracting and threatens to derail your entire workflow (see Tim's recent post about time management). The idea that we should be in control of our e-mail and not the other way around is a central tenet of Inbox Zero philosophy. Basically the idea is that unless your job is to deal with emergency-level messages constantly, you're probably going to be more effective and productive dealing with e-mails in short chunks of time.

If you're using G-mail, Inbox Pause helps you do just that by acting like a spigot for your incoming e-mails. After installing the app, Inbox Pause adds a pause button in your Gmail dashboard. When you click that button, new messages will stop arriving in your Inbox. They'll be held in a special label until you are ready for them. If you choose, Inbox Pause can notify the people who e-mail you to let them know that their message will not be delivered to your inbox until a certain time. When you unpause your inbox, all of the messages that you received during the break will be moved into your Inbox, and new messages will arrive as before.

This is a great way to give yourself some breathing space to actually focus on what's important, and not get bogged down in putting out fires, that aren't actually that important. Inbox Pause also allows you to set up regular email intervals, so that your emails will be delivered to your inbox en masse at the times you've set. You could configure it so that you can set up an hour or two each day that's dedicated just to responding to e-mails, freeing up the rest of your day to work undisturbed.

And the kicker: How much does it cost? It's free.