There’s a new term being tossed around twittersphere like crazy this weekend: “bacn”. Originally written about by Andy Quayle, the term got a lot of buzz at Podcamp Pittsburgh, and for good reason. Sure, we don’t really need another buzzword, but bacn describes a problem we all have, and defining that problem will help bring about solutions.
Bacn refers to emails that you want, but don’t want to deal with right now, like that newsletter that you signed up for that you never really have time to read, or notifications that the umpteenth user followed you on facebook.
If you mark these emails as spam, you’re likely to never see them again. Deleting them isn’t much better, and even leaving them unread still breaks your attention to see if an email is worth dealing with.
That attention-breaking ability is the sneaky evil of bacn. Even services that I adore like twitter and flickr can be a little obtrusive at times. All of those little flow-interrupters mean that you spend a lot of your day getting back up to speed on whatever you were working on before you… hang on, there’s another email… eh, more comments on my photos, back to… wait, what was I doing?
Luckily, theres an easy solution to the bacn problem!
About a year ago, I merged all of my email accounts into one giant gmail account purely for their bacn filtering. I’ve still got all my old email addresses, they just forward to one inbox.
The beauty of gmail’s filtering, and the reason I believe it beats any other email solution hands down, is that the filtering happens before the mail hits your inbox. When I get a new notification from facebook, it comes in, “skips the inbox”, and gets labeled facebook. Most importantly, I never get the little growl popup that notifies me of new mail, and my flow continues uninterrupted.
Once or twice a day while I’m taking a ‘brain break’ I’ll flip through my labels and take care of any pending friend requests, comments, and any other bacn that’s come in during the day. I save at least 30 minutes a day by batching all those little requests, and probably a good deal more.
I’d be very interested to hear about other people’s bacn management techniques. Are there any mail programs other than gmail that allow you to filter before inbox and notifications?