Why Gmail Users Are Switching to Fastmail

Looking for a way to upgrade your inbox? Fastmail’s productivity features help you simplify your workflow and save time.

Fastmail features like Masked Email, Labels, Folders, Aliases, and Personal Domains make it easy to personalize your inbox. See how Digital Learning Designer Barry Sampson uses these features to get the most out of his Fastmail account!

1. What are your favorite Fastmail features, and what purpose do you use them for?

I’ve been using Fastmail for my personal and family emails since 2015. In 2020, I also moved over all of my business emails from Gmail. The initial appeal of Fastmail was greater privacy, but I quickly came to appreciate the support for open standards and excellent customer service. You’re dealing with real people who care about you at Fastmail.

2. How do you maintain your workflow?

I really appreciate how flexible Fastmail is. It allows me to have very different workflows for my personal and business accounts. For example, in my personal account, I use folders. I use labels for my business account because they give me the multi-dimensional organization that’s critical to my workflow.

I combine a couple of key techniques that would only work together with labels. The first is a modified version of the PARA method of organization – PARA being Projects, Areas, Resources, Archive. I have individual labels for each. Projects are those things that need daily attention. Areas are those things that need to be maintained over time, such as business development. All my completed projects (and occasionally areas) get moved into the Archive category. You could create a structure like this with folders, but labels let me add another dimension.

This is inspired by the ‘Trusted Trio,’ which Gina Trapani introduced in a Lifehacker post back in 2006. My setup consists of three labels: @Action, @Hold, and @Waiting. @Action is for things that I have to do. @Hold is for things that I will need some time in the future, such as travel tickets. @Waiting is for those items where whatever happens next is dependent on someone else.

For me, the power is in combining the two sets of labels. If an email has both a project label and the @Action label, that gives me two routes to find it.

I use rules a lot, particularly to organize emails that I know have come from the contact on my website. One of my favorite rules comes courtesy of Scott Hanselman in the One Email Rule. If I am copied on an email rather than being the main recipient, the rule will move it from the main Inbox to a separate labeled folder.

3. How have you changed the way you use email since you started using Fastmail?

I love the sidebar in Fastmail, and this works particularly well for me because I use Fastmail for calendars and contacts. Having a quick view of my calendar in the sidebar is really useful, but my favorite is the people tab. It easily lets me find previous conversations with people who are part of the current email thread. This is really powerful as a freelancer who works across many projects with many clients.

One of my favorite features I’ve recently started using is Masked Email. It makes it possible to only give my real email address to real people – for every product, service, and newsletter I use Masked Email. I also have Masked Email linked to my 1Password account, so I get private emails and secure passwords in one place.

Having email, notes, contacts, and calendars in one app is great! My work account has a single calendar. My personal account has my personal calendar, plus a home calendar which is shared with my wife. Both the personal and the home calendars are shared with my business account so that I can see everything in one place from different accounts. My wife and I share our calendars to plan family events easily.

I have several custom domains linked to my business email, and I also use aliases on my personal account.

4. Do you use color in your workflow?

Color is really important to me. At the simplest level, I have different themes for my personal account (which is green) and my business account (which uses my brand blue). I also use colors with my labels – all client project labels have their own color that matches their branding. The trusted trio labels are also colored: @Action is green, @Hold is grey, and @Waiting is orange. Although I like an empty inbox at the end of each week, these labels make it really easy to spot what I’m looking for until projects are finished and archived.

Color is also really important in my calendar. Blue is for business, green is for personal, and yellow is for home. I work at home full-time, and my schedule needs to allow for everything from client calls to driving my kids to school. I’ve just started using individual event colors, and they are very useful reminders in my calendar.

Like many others, I’ve been reviewing my subscriptions recently to ensure that they’re still worth having. Fastmail is a no-brainer for me!

Fastmail is email for people, by people. It’s easy to increase your productivity without sacrificing your privacy. With Fastmail, you get it all. Try us free for 30 days!

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