Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.

 

Keep on top of your email with Sanebox

For the last 4 of years, I've had a secret weapon to help me deal with email: SaneBox. SaneBox is a service that is phenomenal at dealing with email overwhelm, and it works with just about any email service you can throw at it. Here is a video with a brief overview.

Why is SaneBox useful?

From my perspective, SaneBox automates the handling of a lot of your email, allowing you to "clear the decks" by providing a concise inbox with only those emails which are a priority for you. Your other emails are still there, they just get filed in other folders so you can deal with them when you want to. Here are some of the default folders I like best:

@SaneLater This folder contains items that are important to me, but not necessarily urgent. I deal with them when I choose to.
@SaneNews This houses items that I've subscribed to and want to read during my "reading and research" blocks. They tend to be messages from mailing lists, blogs, and other items that are of intellectual or professional interest to me.
@SaneBulk Things like email coupons, sale announcements, reward programs and so forth tend to end up here. I generally don't look at this unless I'm looking for something (like a coupon code for a particular store). I also create an email rule to purge this folder of anything older than 30 days.
@SaneNextWeek By dropping emails in here, they go away until next week. Very handy.
@SaneArchive Think of this as your "cold storage" folder - drop things in there and they will be searchable and retrievable, but still out of sight.
@SaneBlackHole This is my favorite. When I don't want to hear from someone again (i.e. a persistent spammer, a phishing email, etc. I just move the message into this folder - I will not hear from that sender again. Currently, I have 4989 contacts in my "Black Hole" list. If you change your mind about someone (i.e. someone who was dead to you is now OK again), SaneBox makes it easy to find and un-blacklist them.

I've also created specialized folders like @SaneReceipts, which is where all of my email receipts are kept.

My favorite SaneBox features

Sample of my Digest - click to enlarge.

  • The Daily Digest. This is not a feature I expected to use much, but it is indispensable. Every day, I get an email showing which emails have been sent to folders other than my inbox. The thing that makes it valuable is that I can "train" SaneBox very easily - without having to open an email at all! If I notice something show up in my @SaneLater box (the default folder for things SaneBox doesn't recognize), I simply use the Digest View to redefine where that message should go. Very easy.
    • I've attached an image of a digest (click the thumbnail to enlarge), so you get a sense of what it looks like - this one shows things in my @SaneBulk folder.
    • If I want to read an email "just this once" I click the "Inbox Once" button and it moves immediately (future emails will still go to the @SaneBulk folder).
    • I use this to "cherry pick" messages from individual folders, click to move them to the inbox, then click "Delete All" to nuke the remaining items, which magically disappear from my email accounts.
  • Maintain a focused inbox. By nature of the way it works, SaneBox has helped me keep a solid, focused inbox. I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 350-500 emails per day across all of my main accounts. SaneBox filters this down to roughly 20-25 emails in my main inbox every day. That is huge.
  • Easy training from any device. I don't need a specific "app" to be able to use SaneBox. To train it about which messages go to which folders, you simply move the messages to the right place. The service notices what you've done, and that kind of message goes to its new destination from that point forward.
  • Easily defer emails without losing track of them. I mentioned the @SaneNextWeek folder earlier - that is very useful. Even more useful is the ability to selectively defer emails and have them show up in your inbox when you want to. By simply bcc'ing an address that SaneBox deciphers, you can tell it when you want to see the message again. Here are some examples:
    • bcc: friday.3pm@sanebox.com and the email will show up in your inbox again Friday at 3pm. 
    • bcc: 2weeks@sanebox.com and you'll see it again in 2 weeks
    • You can either use these kinds of special aliases to defer an incoming email until you want to pay attention to it, or you can use it to remind you to follow up on emails you've sent. This is a fantastic feature.

Risk-free trial, and a special offer for you

There are a lot more features, these are just my favorites. I have SaneBox managing 4 different email accounts for me, and couldn't imagine going back to the old way of doing things.


If you're interested in trying it out, go to www.sanebox.com/curiosity for a special offer to Genuine Curiosity readers! Sign up for a free trial and you'll get a $15 credit towards a SaneBox subscription if you decide to keep using the service. 


Note that I also get some free time on my subscription if you sign up. As I mentioned earlier, I've been using SaneBox for years, so when they approached me about reviewing their service and setting up this offer code for you, it was an easy "yes."

If you try it out, I would love to hear about your experiences with SaneBox.

Diet Trumps Exercise

In the past, I've shared how I lost 50 pounds in 6 months. The techniques there have served me well.

However, this last year, I've gotten a bit lax in the diet department, and noticed that I'd put some of the weight back on. I was no longer following a specific plan, and wasn't logging my meals any more. When I initially got serious about getting back in shape again, I tried to compensate by exercising more. After several months of this approach, I really wasn't making any progress on getting the weight off again.

I decided to go back to what I know (as explained in the post linked above), with some basic goals:

  • exercise at least 3 times per week.
  • consume calories at or below my daily target to maintain my goal weight
  • lose at least a pound a week until I reach "steady state" at this new calorie level

Sure enough, I started noticing progress pretty quickly. I'm not on track to get my weight back to where I want it in the next few weeks. It is clear, from my experience, that diet and exercise together can help you meet your fitness goals (duh, right?)

However, if you can only do one of those things, you'll probably see the most benefit from paying attention to your diet. In my opinion, this is because I might skip a day or two of exercise, but I never skip a day or two of eating - and slow & steady wins the race, for sure.

Exercise here, there, and everywhere

For the last couple of months, I've been working to get back into a more regimented exercise routine. With the winter in full force in the Portland, Oregon area I have not been out riding my road bike and didn't want to get totally out of shape. Here are some things I've done, in hopes that you might get some ideas from them.

Exercise anywhere - no equipment required

As I've mentioned here, I travel fairly often and I have found the gym selections at hotels to be very unpredictable. While I take advantage of some of the weights, machines, and cardio stations at hotels sometimes it just doesn't work out.

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When that happens, body weight exercises are a great alternative. The challenge I have is knowing what to do when I attempt this path. Recently, I came across a great site called "Man vs. Weight" that has some helpful resources for this - a huge number of calisthenics and other similar exercises that require little to nothing in the way of additional equipment.

In particular, I like the post called "113 Killer Push Up Variations," which gives you a customizable set of choices to find the right kind of pushup workout for you (and, yes, knee pushups are included to help you when you first get started with this kind of exercise). I grabbed a clipping from this article to give you a sense for what the options are when you're selecting exercises (at right, click to enlarge).

Take it inside

One of the changes I made was to buy a Peloton indoor fitness cycle. I love it, as it is like going to a class but I can do all my riding in a spare room. There are different types of classes available and you can attend either live or on-demand (I tend to use the on-demand classes because I can do them on the spur of the moment, and select a class length, goal, and level of difficulty to match what I need).

I am confident that this will help me transition to my road riding much more easily than last year.

By the way, if you're interested in purchasing a Peloton, use this link and we'll both get two months free on our Peloton class memberships (thanks in advance!)

Put them together

I am a big fan of putting these two together - the Peloton routines I use are more focused on legs and cardio, and adding in some variations of pushups can help me get a more comprehensive workout, as well as work on my core strength.

After all, mixing things up is good to keep your body from getting too "bored" with a workout, and the more tools in the toolbox to add variety, the better.

What about you? What resources, routines, tricks, etc. do you use to make it more likely you'll workout year round (and in any kind of location)? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Fight depression and low energy in your office (with Infographic)

I was just reading through a great article from the "OmniPapers" blog about using the chemistry of our emotions for fighting depression at work. I live in Portland, Oregon and this time of year, natural light is scarce which affects moods, motivation, and happiness for a lot of people.

OmniPapers' Emily Johnson has provided the comprehensive infographic below to help people work through improvements in the workplace (whether in a corporate or a home office environment). I've been experimenting with introducing more light into my workspace the past several weeks, and I have definitely noticed a difference.

I hope you enjoy this infographic! Be sure and check out OmniPapers for a lot of other good content, as well (click on the graphic below to go to the original article).

Career Contentment: Key Factors to Help You Find a Job That You Love

When we were children, it sounded so simple. Just come up with an answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and voila, there's your dream job. But as an adult, you realized it's hardly that simple. In fact, finding a fulfilling career is a lifelong quest for many people.

Don't Expect to Get It Right on the First Try

While you should consider yourself supremely fortunate if you happen to find career contentment at your first job out of school, this is not the reality that most people experience (and if you're reading this article, it's unlikely that you feel your job is perfect). More often, you need to try out a few different jobs before finding one that brings you career contentment and job satisfaction.

There is no magic number of jobs that you need to try before finding the one that suits you best. The key is to be flexible and willing to put yourself out there to try something new. It's also crucial to maintain a high level of self-awareness, so you can identify what qualities you like and don't like about your position. Over time, a clear understanding of your likes and dislikes in a career will help make it easier to identify the best opportunities that suit your needs.

Don't Stick with a Job If You Don't Find It Fulfilling

Don't be afraid to start looking for a new opportunity at the first sign of discontent with a job. There is no reason to stay at a job for an arbitrary period if you are miserable. Life is too short to spend 40-plus hours a week doing something that makes you unhappy.

Rather than quitting right away, wait until you have another opportunity to move on to, so you can avoid financial stress. If you can't find the perfect job within a few months, take matters into your own hands by exploring entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial opportunities. For instance, you could start your own business with a direct sales company like Amway or open an Etsy shop selling handmade goods if you are particularly creative.

Qualities to Look For

When exploring the topic of career contentment, a few common themes present themselves. Things like work-life balance, a minimal commute and a fun work environment are commonly identified by people who have found career contentment in their current jobs. U.K.-based recruitment firm Reed recently conducted a formal survey and identified the following factors are the top qualities that contribute to career satisfaction:

  • Simple commute: 31 percent of respondents noted that an easy, stress-free commute help make a job more enjoyable.
  • Great workspace: A well-designed workspace that is tailored to create a fun environment scored as a top quality by 29 percent of those surveyed.
  • Work-life balance: This is a hot topic in the HR world for a good reason, over 20 percent of people surveyed noted work-life balance as a top contributor to their career contentment.
  • Good salary: Surprisingly, career contentment isn't all about the money. Salary was only noted by 18 percent of survey respondents as a factor leading to career fulfillment.
  • Social events: 16 percent of respondents said that opportunities to socialize with co-workers at company-sponsored social events were important to them.