Skip to main content

Using email to manage work queue can be deceptive

I loathe on emails that have been replied more than 5-6 times. I am sometimes copied on emails where there are 20 replies. Today I have an email about post commit reviews which has 20 replies, Grrr.  I procrastinated whole day to read it and looks like I am not goint to read it today.

Problem with 20+replies email is that by the time you end up reading all 20 of them you have lost context of what is the final picture.

I saw this infographic from 2012  that 28% of time is spent on reading emails.  I think for me its may be 50% or more as I work from home and most communication is over emails except very few which happens  over skype or phone calls.

Would love to explore tools to save time.  I found 2 new tools in gmail so far, "Canned Response" and "Mark as Read" button, lets see if it helps.

For e.g. I would be copied on email "23.7.3 CL- 120157 on all Appnodes and EOS nodes in SJC, AVL and AM2", now I don’t want to delete it as I may need it in case there is an issue in prod. But I also want to move it out of my Unread queue as I am using email to manage my work queue. I am hoping now I don’t need to open email and mark it as read, a one click would do it.

Also thinking of adding more filters to just sweep some emails I care less to trash as other members are taking care of dealing with them.

But this got me into thinking should I use email to manage my work queue, I used to use a task list before but problem was that some items would never get done. Then I switched to gmail and all pending work would be in emails  marked as Unread, I would have read it but if any action is required I would mark it as Unread.  I am almost at a tipping point because it takes me almost from 9-4 to talk to my team and deplete the email queue. That leaves sometimes 1 hour or sometimes 2 hours to write any kind of code. Sometimes it feels like I got rid of all emails that came to me in the day but I got nothing productive done. So was I just pretending to work?

Also gmail is deceptive, when I come in morning it shows me I have 76 unread emails but daily there are many emails that have between 3-5 replies and some are suckers with 10+ replies. So really its almost 150+emails to deal with and this is after sending lot of emails to trash directly.

Need to find some other way to manage the work queue, I had  tried using JIRA but that also hasn’t fared well.


  1. I'm testing Todoist now. It has a nice integration with Gmail that allows you to create to-do items based on (and linking to) an email thread, optionally set dates/projects/labels etc, and archive then original email.

    1. My problem is not with task management, for that I can use Mailbox or notes or any other way, problem is sheer amounts of emails to read and reply that at the end of the day dont feel like I achieved anything. I am still a programmer at heart and needs something tangible to produce at end of the day.

      I am thinking of may be moving to no email days.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

RabbitMQ java clients for beginners

Here is a sample of a consumer and producer example for RabbitMQ. The steps are
Download ErlangDownload Rabbit MQ ServerDownload Rabbit MQ Java client jarsCompile and run the below two class and you are done.
This sample create a Durable Exchange, Queue and a Message. You will have to start the consumer first before you start the for the first time.

For more information on AMQP, Exchanges, Queues, read this excellent tutorial
import com.rabbitmq.client.Connection; import com.rabbitmq.client.Channel; import com.rabbitmq.client.*; public class RabbitMQProducer { public static void main(String []args) throws Exception { ConnectionFactory factory = new ConnectionFactory(); factory.setUsername("guest"); factory.setPassword("guest"); factory.setVirtualHost("/"); factory.setHost(""); factory.setPort(5672); Conne…

Spring query timeout or transaction timeout

If you are using spring to manage transactions then you can specify default transaction timeout using

    <bean id="transactionManager"
        <property name="dataSource" ref="dataSource" />
        <property name="defaultTimeout" value="30" /> <!--30 sec--->             

or you can override the timeout in the annotation

    @Transactional(readOnly = false, timeout=30)

or if you are doing it programatic transactions then you can do

DataSourceTransactionManager transactionManager = new DataSourceTransactionManager(dataSource);

 or you can override the timeout for one particular transaction

TransactionTemplate transactionTemplate = new TransactionTemplate();

Python adding pid file

I have a thumbnail generator that launches multiple processes and the correct way to shut it down is to send kill -HUP to the parent process. To automate I had to write a pid file from python, it was a piece of cake
def writePidFile(): pid = str(os.getpid()) f = open('', 'w') f.write(pid) f.close()