If you're anything like me, an overflowing inbox stresses you. When the emails in my inbox start filling more than a screen, I lose focus. This is particularly troubling as I'm also using my inbox as a reminder about issues I need to look at: travel bookings, meetings to be booked, inquiries to be made at the right time, and so on. A lot of emails about things I don't actually need to do anything about right now.
Last week, I was delighted to find Noah Tilton having created a convenient tool for a Tickler file (as popularized by the book Getting things Done by David Allen) for Maildir MUAs such as Mutt. If you're a bit more Gmail-snazzy, you may recognize the same concept from Boomerang for Gmail.
The basic ideas is this: not everything in your INBOX needs to be acted on right now. The things which don't need to be acted on now take attention away from what you should be doing. So you want to move them away, but have them appear again at a particular time: next week, in December, tomorrow, or so.
What Noah's tickler-mail does is it allows you to keep one Maildir folder as a tickler file. I call this one todo, so everything in
~/Maildir/todo/ is my tickler file. Within this tickler file, I save emails in a subfolder with a human-readable description, such as "next-week", "next-month", or "25th-of-december" (
~/Maildir/todo/next-week/, ~/Maildir/todo/next-month/, ~/Maildir/todo/25th-of-december).
The tickler-mail utility then parses these human-readable descriptions with Python's parsedatetime library and compares the result with the change timestamp of the email. If the indicated amount of time has passed, it moves the email to the INBOX where and adds an additional "X-Tickler" header to it to indicate it's a tickler file email. With this
.muttrc recipe, the e-mail is then shown clearly in red so I can easily and quickly tell which are new and which have come in from the tickler file:
color index red black '~h "X-Tickler:.*"'