Of the many things that are really great about Rover, one of them is that we have a very healthy “email culture”. We mostly talk face-to-face or in a chat room. Most mornings, I arrive at work with very few new emails in my inbox.

I surveyed my Rover email for the last week, and in that time I have been part of 118 email threads from people inside of Rover.[1] That’s 16.9 emails per day or 23.6 per work day.[2] I can tell you from past experience, that is virtually nothing; other places I’ve worked have been in the 100+ per day range.

With Rover’s email culture, I already was getting an “A” in not being overloaded by email. But, email is something that stresses me out, so I wanted to dial things up to an “A+”. Those few messages I did have sitting in my inbox were like a little devil on my shoulder whispering, “hey, look here…there are unattended things to do”. I didn’t like it.

So, I decided to get email out of my life for good.

To start, I decided that in order to stay focused on my task list, I didn’t want to have Gmail open in my browser all day long. Once I made that decision, things moved pretty quickly.

Then, I needed a way to surface my tasks. One way was to look at my tasks on the right pane of Google Calendar. But, the column in which the tasks appear is too narrow for my liking; I wanted a full-page view. Google doesn’t provide an obvious way to have a full browser screen for the task list, but after some searching and experimentation I figured out that https://mail.google.com/tasks/ig returns the task list.

As I worked down my task list, sometimes a task would involve sending an email, contacting someone by Google Chat, or needing to find old emails that informed the task I was working on. I solved these problems with a combination of Chrome Extensions and Chrome Search Engines:

With these tools in place, I am now able to treat reading email just like every other task: something that I prioritize with intention. I am much less stressed and distracted by email, my productivity has increased and I feel happier too!


[1] I decided to look at email threads, not individual emails, with the assumption being that each thread is some subject matter to which I need to devote mindshare and attention. In addition, I decided to not include automated system emails because I have rules that filter these out of my Inbox. Finally, I excluded email from people outside of Rover, such as mailing lists or inquiries from salespeople, those mails are not reflective of Rover’s email culture.

[2] Even at those amazing rates, many of those emails were “noise”:

  • 15 emails were “here I am” email, i.e. “running late”, “out sick”, “working from home”, etc.
  • 30 were calendar notifications (19 invites, 8 updates and 3 cancellations)
  • 5 were personal, i.e. “wanna get coffee”, “who wants to go to happy hour tonight?”, etc.

These emails take virtually zero mindshare, so let’s remove them from the tabulation. Subtracting the noise leaves 75 emails that needed my attention: 9.7 per day or 13.6 per work day. </small>