I've found that having big stretches of time where I don't frequently check my email boosts my ability to accomplish things. A service called AwayFind gives me the peace of mind to ignore my inbox.In a nutshell, AwayFind lets you add selected email addresses to a Priority Inbox. When someone on your list sends you an email, a notification appears on your phone. That way, you don't need to check your email inbox every few minutes. I've added my family members, my book editor, my coworkers at MAKE and Boing Boing, and a few other people to my Priority Inbox list.
Does this sound like Apple's new VIP feature? Yes, AwayFind and Apple's VIP share some of the same functionality. However, AwayFind goes beyond Apple's VIP feature, making it much more useful. Jared Goralnick, the founder of AwayFind, wrote a blog post that describes the features in AwayFind that VIP doesn't have. For instance, AwayFind determines the 25 people that you reply to the fastest and makes it easy to add them to your Priority Inbox (this list is regenerated every month). It also notifies you when someone you've scheduled a meeting with sends you an email before your meeting, even if they aren't in your Priority Inbox. These examples just scratch the surface. Check out a list of the other differences between VIP and AwayFind here.
You can try AwayFind for free for 30 days. After that you can subscribe to a personal plan for $4.99 a month, which includes 100 alerts a month, or a pro account for $14.99 a month, which gives you 1000 alerts per month.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects