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I’ve always been a music nut, buying lots of albums, putting them aside when a newer and/or better record came along, to be seldomly heard again. Until a post appeared on Lifehacker more than a year ago about the use of iTunes’ Smart Playlists. It’s quite a complicated system to set up, but once you’ve got it rolling it’s genius!

Here is my needlessly complicated playlisting scheme that I am secretly quite proud of. I very rarely fiddle with my tunes except for once in awhile when I get a song in my head and *have* to hear it — other than that, this scheme keeps me in a good mix. And no pesky ignored tunes! Eventually, they all cycle through.

So, my tweaks to the system?

  • All 5-star-songs, not played in the last month, appear in the Playlist of Record.
  • All 4-star-songs, not played in the last 3 months, appear in the Playlist of Record.
  • All 3-star-or-less-songs, not played in the last 6 months, appear in the Playlist of Record.
  • All songs, purchased within the last month, regardless of when played last, appear in the Playlist of Record.

This means you create 4 smart playlists with quite simple rules. And one Playlist of Record which combines all of the previously created smart playlists. This results, for me, in a playlist which has about 8,7 days worth of music in it, of my total library of 11,4 days (since I’ve been using Spotify for the last two months).

The Playlist of Record is then chosen as the base for iTunes DJ, which shuffles the songs. As a surplus I tend to select the option “Play higher ranked songs more often,” since I like good music better.

Too bad iTunes Match doesn’t sync playlists that reference other playlists…

39

I’ve found it, the holy grail every productivity pioneer - from David Allen to the guys at Asian Efficiency - has been looking for: the ultimate e-mail lifehack.

Many have pondered over the fact that the ‘Inbox’ is broken, that there must be some other way to do it. GTD-fetishists (under whom I count myself) have adopted the 'Defer-Delegate-Delete-Respond-Do'-approach, made famous by Merlin Mann’s ‘Inbox Zero’-talks.

This got me thinking: why do I keep putting a self-induced system on top of the infrastructure that is the e-mail inbox? Why not try and rebuild that infrastructure to make processing my e-mails a little easier?

And I’ve come up with something that appears to be too simple for words, but that has profoundly changed my life over the last couple of weeks:

The Smart Unread Inbox

I’ve taken Apple’s Mail.app option to create ‘custom inboxes’ based on rules to create a virtual inbox which consists of items that comply to these two rules:

  • Are in the inbox
  • Are unread

I’ve hidden all other inboxes and folders, with just two of these “Smart Unread Inboxes”, one for work-mail, one for personal mail.

(Other e-mail clients offer the same option.)

Why?

So what is this ‘magic’ you talk about? Those are just the unread messages in your inbox, you weird wizard of the East?

Well, that’s the genius of it. Once you start reading a message in this Smart Unread Inbox, it’s actually not part of it anymore. It’s in this sort of Schrödinger state, which only exists as long as you keep the e-mail open. So you have to act upon it, otherwise it will disappear forever into the mists that are the cloud.

Try it, you’ll be amazed.