While a personal secretary is great for bringing the most important e-mails to the forefront, not all of us can afford/actually want one. This week Google attempts to solve that problem with Priority Inbox, an experimental feature that sorts messages into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred,” and “Everything else”. 

Battling Information Overload

Priority Inbox targets the average corporate worker, who, according to an e-mail statistics report from The Radicati Group, sends and receives more than 150 messages per day. 

Priority Inbox automatically categorizes messages as they arrive in your inbox. In order to do this, Gmail tracks which e-mails you open, which contacts you regularly exchange messages with, etc. Should Google make a mistake, you can adjust the rating manually with a new set of plus and minus buttons (sort of like Pandora). In the end, your inbox will look a little something like this: 


(image credit: Google)

Learning Opportunities

"When we tested Priority Inbox at Google, we found that people spent 6% less time on email after enabling this feature," saidDoug Aberdeen, Google Software Engineer. "This translates to a week’s worth of time saved each year for information workers who typically spend 13 hours per week on email today!"

Conversely, while wading through less junk is a good thing, some have found that the addition of text in an already text-heavy space is a bit visually complicated. Try it out for yourself and let us know what you think (keep an eye on the upper-right area of your the inbox; once the feature is available for your account, it will show up there).

Until then, check out Google's not-so-complicated concept video: