The Best Email for Those who Struggle with Organization

This article is about SciActive’s new email service,

One of the biggest struggles I have with ADHD is maintaining an effective organization strategy, especially when it comes to managing my email. My old Gmail account is filled with labels following various different labeling schemes I’ve tried to help me with this struggle, but none of them have ever worked. Looking back, it’s obvious why they didn’t. Every one of them put the onus on me to regularly organize my inbox. While Gmail does offer automatic categories like “Forums” and “Promotions,” relying on someone else’s solution is rarely the right answer when it comes to organization. As a result, many of my messages would go unread for months because they were buried in different inboxes that I rarely checked. None of these solutions were designed with my needs in mind.

Sorting my email for me is a great approach, because it reduces the mental load required to simply check my email, but without any input from me on how I would like my email sorted, it doesn’t solve the problem in a way that actually helps me. I’ve tried other solutions that do require lots of input from me though, and they don’t help either. A non-trivial amount of my life has been spent writing Microsoft Exchange filters and sieve scripts. These genuinely work for a while. What makes them ultimately fail is that any set of filters large enough and good enough to sort my email properly is too difficult to manage.

This is why I created Port87, an email service with automatic organization that is both effortless and flexible.

The solution is surprisingly simple. I took a step I was already doing, providing my email address to a new sender, and used it to give Port87 the information it needs to organize my email exactly as I want. For example, when signing up for Netflix, instead of using “[email protected],” I can use “[email protected].” By doing so, Port87 knows that any email sent to that address should be placed in the “netflix” label. This approach resolves several issues that remain unsolved by other email services.

Issues with Sender address filters

Let’s say I want all emails from Netflix to go into the “netflix” label. Initially, I might create a filter that checks for incoming mail from “[email protected].” This works well for a few days until I receive an email from “[email protected].” Then I have to add that address to the filter, which becomes a recurring process as I encounter new email variations. Even when I set the filter to “,” it works for a while until I receive an email from “[email protected].” Additionally, if Netflix’s security is compromised, my email address may end up on spammers’ lists, inundating me with unwanted messages through my one and only email address.

Issues with tagged address filters

I can use “hperrin+netflix@gmail” as the address instead to solve all these problems, right? Well, yes, but actually no. That will help me organize my email, but Gmail won’t do it for me. Even then, some places don’t like the plus sign in an email address. For example, if I try to sign up for a Microsoft account with a plus sign in my email address, Microsoft calls it an invalid email address. A dash would work, but Gmail usernames can have a dash, so “hperrin+microsoft” and “hperrin-microsoft” are not equivalent in Gmail. So only if I fancy having to manually add a filter every time I sign up for a new account and not being able to sign up for some things, would this be an acceptable solution.

Port87 solves these problems

Instead of a plus sign, I can use a dash (aka hyphen) with Port87. This is accepted everywhere (Microsoft, political polling places, even the DMV). Port87 automatically organizes my email based on what follows the dash. I don’t even need to set up a label in advance. By giving Netflix the “[email protected]” address, the first time Netflix sends an email, Port87 will create a “netflix” label for me. The next time I sign in, I can approve this label, and file it underneath my “Media” label. Now my Netflix email is always organized. If Netflix were to experience a security breach, and my email address were leaked on the dark web, I could easily change the label’s ID to “[email protected]” and block the other address. Bingo bango bongo, no more spam.

A screenshot showing modifying the Netflix label within Port87 to make the address netflix2 instead.
It’s easy to change a label’s address.

What if I don’t know who I’m giving my email to?

When I publicly share my email address, I have no control over who might receive it. It’s impractical to list out multiple different addresses for the various reasons people might email me every time I put my email out there. Port87 solves this problem too, by utilizing the “bare address.” My bare address is [email protected]. Like all bare addresses at Port87, it doesn’t actually go through, but responds to the sender with a list of public addresses. Feel free to test it by sending an email to my bare address right now.

A public address in Port87 is simply a label that’s been marked public and given a description of why someone would email it. I’ve got a lot of open source projects that people email me about, so I’ve got a public label “opensource” with a public address, [email protected]. This label also has screening enabled, so if a sender who’s never messaged it before messages it without going through the bare address, it will respond with a challenge before it delivers the message.

An autoreply message from Port87 explaining that messages to the bare address don't go through. It lists other addresses for the sender to use instead.
Friendly autoresponse lets the sender choose which address is best.

Having public labels like these that people can actually reach me with solves another problem too. When a real person emails me, their message is already sorted. And that’s the last of the organization problems solved.

Port87 is the Best Email Service for Organization

I’ve never enjoyed email before. It’s a weird feeling to look at my Port87 account and not feel the dread I used to feel when looking at an email inbox. I don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch, because it’s truly something I’m passionate about. This system is the first in my entire life that has gotten me enjoying using my email. Although there’s still room for improvement to match the features and polish of other email services, I wouldn’t choose any other service over Port87, even at this stage.

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