I’m thinking smartphones are at once the best and the worst thing to happen to workaholics in at least the past decade. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever to stay connected, whether you’re in a meeting, at home, on vacation, watching TV, standing in line at the grocery store, at your kid’s softball game, at a wedding, at a funeral … well. Yeah. That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it?
One specific part of the problem for me, if I can get a little personal: I can’t bring myself to ignore those little red numbers that tell me I have a new email (or a new text or a new Facebook message, for that matter). I know they’re just tiny little dots with tiny little numbers, but it’s like they’re yelling at me, right from my phone’s home screen. I have to look. And it’s all downhill from there, mostly because I worry that if I don’t answer the email now, I’ll forget about it tomorrow morning because the little red number will be gone.
This is where I thought the new iPhone app, Mailbox, was going to ride in on a white steed to save the day. With this free app, you can “snooze” an email. Using a quick swipe to the left, you can select later today, this evening, next week, someday or pick a custom date to have the email sent to you again. There were other features that supposedly would transform my inbox from a realm where chaos reigns to an oiled and organized machine, but really, that easy-to-use snooze function is what sold me.
I read about Mailbox back when you still had to wait in line to get the app, and dutifully signed up to wait. Then I saw there were something like a million people in line ahead of me and promptly forgot about Mailbox until yesterday.
While I was distracted (probably staying up late checking emails), Mailbox did away with the waiting list and was purchased by Dropbox, the company behind another of my favorite free tools. I thought these seemed like positive steps for an already much-hyped app.
And yesterday, when I went in to play with Mailbox, I loved it. I liked the tutorial. I loved how simple the short and long swipe functions are, and I felt a surge of enthusiasm for Mailbox’s “zero-inbox” concept.
“Maybe I’ll become one of those people who keeps an empty inbox,” I thought. “Maybe I’ll become the kind of person who never forgets to reply to an email. Who knows, maybe I’ll never again send an email where I’ve forgotten to include the attachments.”
But I realized quickly that Mailbox won’t be changing my life quite yet: It only works with Gmail. That means it only covers about 20 percent of the email accounts I want access to on a given day. Cue the sad trombone sound effect.
It’s a familiar story for me. It was like Wunderlist all over again—here I thought this tool was going to change everything for me … but then I realized that technology can’t solve all my problems. I still have to remember things. Like phone chargers. And attachments. And, truth be told, no matter how great my email app is, I’m still going to be distracted by my phone when I’m trying to watch Game of Thrones.