Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
About your Gmail...I use the power of subscribing and non-subscribing to forums to keep myself sane. In the beginning of a course (or the beginning of when we're starting to use a particular forum) I like to subscribe to remind myself that the forum discussion has started. But soon I unsubscribe because I can't take the amount of emails and also I can't see any of the individual emails in context. Then I just have to remember to check into the course often to keep catching up.
We find our ways of organizing, hey? I hope going to group work on Wednesday lightened the load a little for you. (That's another strategy!)