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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 10: Filter Low-Priority Messages

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

You’re head-down at work on that important presentation that’s due in two hours. Ding! An unopened envelope appears in your system tray.

“You have 1 unread message.”

Maybe it’s your co-worker with game-changing information about the presentation. Maybe it’s your boss asking to see you right away. You switch and take a look at your inbox. Oh. Aunt Eunice forwarded you a picture of a kitten in a tutu. Again.

Millions of email messages course over the Internet per second, and a bunch of them land in your inbox. Your spam filter helps shuttle junk mail out of sight, but what about messages from CC-happy co-workers, Aunt Eunice’s forwarded emails, Facebook friend notifications, Google Alerts, and mailing-list messages that clutter your inbox with low-priority noise? A group of web users coined the term “bacn” to refer to this “middle class of email” that’s “better than spam but not as good as a personal email.” 11 In other words, they’re messages you want to read eventually, just not right now. Instead of giving your bacn the same priority as your actually important email, put a system in place that clears away the bacn automatically so that you can drill down quickly to what’s important.

NOTE Bacn (pronounced “bacon”) is an Internet slang term cooked up by a group of web users at PodCamp Pittsburgh 2. It means email that you want to read, but not right away.

Filter Bacn

Set up rules — also called email filters ...

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