(MoneyWatch) In the old days, before we were always connected, you could take your phone off the hook for an hour to have a private meeting, get some work done or even just have a meal in peace. The omnipresence of email has made that kind of isolation difficult, though. Want to escape your email for a while? You could certainly close your Web browser, but the folks behind Boomerang for Gmail have come up with a clever, high-tech alternative.
Inbox Pause is an add-on for Gmail that works with both the Firefox and Chrome browsers. Install it, and you'll get a big, bold pause button in Gmail that is the email equivalent of taking your phone off the hook.
When you pause your inbox, no new email will show up. Instead, it gets shunted off to a discreet label so no mail is actually lost. When you un-pause your mail, all the messages which arrived in the meantime will get moved back to your inbox, ready for your review.
Is this better than just closing your Web browser? Sure -- psychologically, it's more permissible to "pause" your mail service than to shut it off by closing the window. But more importantly, you can optionally turn on a handy autoresponse that lets everyone know you've gone offline for a little while. You can customize the message, so if you only want to be reached by phone or in person, you can indicate that in the message as well.
Inbox Pause is a free utility that could prove handy for anyone who uses Gmail on Firebox or Chrome.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andres Rueda