Bacn Management

I've recently realized that probably about two-thirds of my email is stuff I just don't care about or want to read. But it's not exactly spam, either, as it comes from trusted sources that, if only peripherally, I know or who know me from somewhere. Turns out there's a name for this type of email: bacn.

In some ways, bacn is worse than spam because you have to decide what to do with it; you can't just mark it as spam, so there's a great deal more cognitive effort that bacn requires. But the main problem with bacn is that I get a lot of it, and it commands far more of my attention than I'd like. In fact, it's a constant distraction. It's like those people on the streets who hand out flyers or try to get you to donate to their cause. You know, the ones everyone hates. But dealing with bacn is like having to deal with one of those people every hour or so, all day long. It's just awful. So I've finally decided to do something about it.

Where possible I've tried to be conscientious and unsubscribe from the mailing list in question. Beyond that, the obvious solution to the bacn problem is email filters. Just create filters for all the bacn you get and be done with it. And that's largely what I've done. But creating filters for every type of sender is tedious, requiring you to set up a new filter, enter the criteria, test it and then apply it. Ideally, there would be a way to create a filter using a selected email as an example.

Well, it turns out that there is — at least in Gmail, which is my email client of choice for most of my mail — I've just missed it all this time. To create a filter from an email, simply check the tickbox next to the email, then, under the "More" menu select "Filter Messages Like These."

You'll get Gmail's standard filter interface with the sender info correctly pre-filled and you can set up a label and add whatever actions you want. It works with multiple selections as well, so if you choose two emails with different senders, the filter will be set up to handle any email from either sender.

I know it only eliminates a couple steps. But being able to create filters directly from my Inbox based on the exact type of email I want to filter will really be a boon to my bacn management. It's much easier, more direct and less error-prone. And reducing the amount of bacn I have to directly deal with will be a boon to my productivity, happiness and sanity.