“Spam is dead. Spam remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we occupy our free time, the murderers of all murderers? What was the mightiest waste of time has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What tradition is there for us to clean our inboxes? What habits of atonement, what sacred inbox cleansing games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us?” - some guy who knows how to use email rules
Below is how my work inbox works.
Email Rules Physics:
Create rules that apply labels and can help you to identify your email better. Example: If the sender's address contains the words 'amazon.com', then apply the following category “Amazon.”
Create rules that catch email; these rules are the same as categorize rules but include “Stop processing more rules.” Example: If the sender's address contains these words 'amazon.com', then apply the following category “Amazon” and stop processing more rules on this message.
Because you have stopped processing more rules on this message, no further rules will move this message to any other folder. Instead, it will stay in your inbox. Catch rules are how you whitelist mail.
Create rules that move messages to folders. Most of us have this already. Example: If the sender's address contains these words 'lego.com', then move the message to folder 'lego stuff' and stop processing more rules on this message.
This is the final rule and the magic to becoming uninterruptable. Create a rule and a folder called “The Screen.” Example: If a message arrives in my inbox, move the message to folder 'The Screen,' except when the senders address contains these words: '@example.com'
All mail not whitelisted using a “Catch” rule will be moved to “The Screen.” I exclude internal mail from this rule so that my coworkers are never screened out of my inbox.
So, now that we know how the physics work let's do some applied science and go over some of my favorite email rules.
It's useful to know that you can catch email based on any context you can create a rule for, but the way I use them is I have a catch rule for individual email addresses and a catch rule for domains.
The screening rule should always be at the end of your rules. Otherwise, you will inadvertently screen everything. I always add my organization's domain as an exception to this rule but nothing else.
The end, this is how I now live a spam-free life. An honorable mention should go to fastmail.com, who gives their users the ability to make rules that filter out people not added to your contacts list; I wish more email providers had this. And Hey.com who's whole product is basically the screen rule.