Periodic reducation of email interrupt rate

At work, I’ve ended up on many email aliases; since we moved to pursuing open development on opensolaris.org, my subscriptions and incoming email flow have grown tremendously, to the point where they were interfering with my ability to get work done. My present filter setup involves delivery to 56 inboxes.

I’ve had a small email toolset built around the Mutt email client (or mail user agent (MUA) in email-speak). My .muttrc includes $HOME/.mailboxes, which is a list of the mail inboxes into which my procmail filter delivers. The m and check commands use .mailboxes to determine where new messages have arrived. Happily, this infrastructure can easily give me a few hours of reduced interrupts, so that I can get some thinking and writing done.

The idea is to strongly reduce the number of significant inboxes during what we’ll label as “prime” work hours, between lunch and dinner on weekdays. Given the use of .mailboxes outlined above, the solution is pretty easy:

  1. Move .mailboxes to .mailboxes.offprime.
  2. Take a copy of .mailboxes.offprime as .mailboxes.prime. Prune the prime mailboxes severely.
  3. Install these files in $HOME. (My Makefiles do this, and all the mailbox lists and the Makefiles are version-controlled.)
  4. Add something like the following using crontab -e:

    # We want to eliminate mail testing on all mailboxes during prime work

    hours. This change means that between 12pm - 6pm, mailboxes is

    pointed to a reduced mailboxes file.

    0 12 * * 1,2,3,4,5 /usr/bin/ln -sf /home/sch/.mailboxes.prime /home/sch/.mailboxes 0 18 * * 1,2,3,4,5 /usr/bin/ln -sf /home/sch/.mailboxes.offprime /home/sch/.mailboxes

  5. Run whichever of the two ln(1) invocations above correspond to the current time.

You’re now ready to relax and enjoy reduced interrupt rates, leaving you time to focus on real work… or write blog postings about managing your interrupt rates.

[ T: OpenSolaris Solaris mutt procmail ]