Working from home: inbox focus
Like many people who work from home, I use the same computer for both “work” and “personal” activity. This has many benefits, including lower cost, more efficient use of space, and reduced configuration maintenance.
The main drawback of this arrangement is that it’s easy to get drawn into the wrong context. This is especially true in a company like Canonical, where there are people working at all hours around the world, communicating with each other on common IRC channels. If I see work-related conversations on IRC after hours, it’s easy to slip into “work mode” and start thinking about what’s being discussed, or even responding.
Similarly, if I look at my work inbox, my brain goes on autopilot and I start processing email even if I was doing something else before. This habit serves me well during the work day, when I can process a lot of email in the time between appointments, but in the evenings and at weekends, it’s a distraction.
Recently, I made a small change to my mail reader configuration to try to address this problem. If I launch mutt “off hours”, it uses a different default inbox than during “working hours”. These are of course approximate, but since both my personal and work inboxes are in the search path, it’s not a big deal if it guesses wrong. It generally only needs to be correct at the start of a session. Sometimes, it’s just the nudge I need to remind me to switch contexts.
set spoolfile = `case $(date +%u-%H) in \ [1-5]-0?|[1-5]-1[0-7]) echo +incoming.canonical.INBOX ;; \ *) echo +incoming.INBOX ;; \ esac`