The Musubi Blog

Gmail Timer - Schedule when to receive new mail

Impatient? Skip down to the installation instructions.

Gmail Timer is a Google Apps Script which lets you take control of how often you’re interrupted by email. Timer will divert all of your incoming email into a folder until moving them all into your inbox on an interval you specify, whether once an hour, once a day, or anywhere in between.

Why should I use Gmail Timer?

Here at Musubi, our business is email overload. Our average customer gets a new email every 5 to 10 minutes. That’s a lot of interruptions! And they’re not only annoying, they’re toxic to your work productivity. Researchers from the Danwood Group have found that:

  • 70% of emails are responded to in the first 6 seconds
  • 85% of emails are responded to in the first 2 minutes
  • It takes roughly 64 seconds to return to what you were doing after getting an email

That much distraction can cause a serious loss of productivity. Having worked in client services before, I was definitely one of those six second email slaves. But as I started building Musubi, I realized that checking email so often was killing my programming flow. After dashing off an email, it would take me ages to get back to work.

There are several research papers which suggests that decreasing the number of times you check email in a day can increase your productivity. As we wrote about before, it seems like the ideal number of times to check is around 4 times a day - say 9, 12, 3 and 6pm.

But if you use Gmail, there is no way to sync any less than realtime. If Gmail’s open, you’re going to be bombarded with new message notifications.

I got tired of it and wrote a simple solution using Google App Scripts. That solution is Gmail Timer.

Installation

Short instructions

  1. Make a copy of the script on Google Drive, then set up a time-based trigger to run it.
  2. Set up a filter to divert all mail matching (From:(*) in: inbox) into the label created by the script

Full instructions

  1. Open the script.

  2. Click “File”, then “Make a Copy”.
    Make a copy

  3. Authorize the script and create the deferred messages label by running the moveDelayedMessages function Authorize the function to run

  4. Set up the time interval by clicking on resources, then triggers Triggers

  5. Open Gmail and add a filter which matches the following pattern: From:(*) in: inbox. Add a filter

That’s it! You’re now running on a slower, more focused email schedule. If you’re interested in being interrupted even fewer times a day, try Musubi, which will sort through your newfound email batch and pluck out only the high priority emails.

Good luck, and take your life back from your inbox!