Ok, so I’ll cop to it. I totally ran a shorter version of this post yesterday over on The Well. But I’ll also cop to something else: two nights ago I lay awake worrying about emails I hadn’t responded to yet. And when it came to the personal emails — the ones that needed to be sent to important people in my life who I dearly love — it also left me feeling like a bad friend. I realized that I really, really needed to integrate a few of the resources below into my email routine. Even though I wrote this post specifically for a blog about blogging, the reality is that many of us — bloggers or not — get overwhelmed with email (and email responding fatigue), so I wanted to share these tools here in case anyone in the vmac community could use them!
I get a lot of email. There’s business email, personal email, and then total junk email — and then variations of each within those categories, of course. I used to be a total nut when it came to having an Inbox count of zero. Now? I can’t even remember the last time that happened. I like to describe email as Sisyphean…it’s a never ending task and struggle. The good news is, technology is awesome, and nowadays there are SO MANY tools to help you keep up with things. I’m just the slowpoke who didn’t know about such tools until recently.
Step one in the email battle? Use things like Gmail’s canned responses (I’ve mentioned it before, but Meg has a great tutorial on that here). Step two? Letting go of the need to reply to every single email I receive…and using the delete button judiciously (yes, I said it!). And then, there are other tools, like the ones below. I’m totally installing Boomerang and Taskforce ASAP! Have you tried any of these tools out? I hope these are helpful for you guys!
What it is: SaneBox determines the importance of each email based on your past behavior within your Inbox. It will move messages you care less about out of your Inbox and into a separate folder. Then, it summarizes them for you in a digest. In addition to a one-click unsubscribe feature, you can also set up reminders to respond to emails you’ve received, or follow up with people you sent emails to. There’s also a nifty “snooze” feature so you can ignore emails that don’t need an immediate response. And, I love that SaneBox allows you to seamlessly move any email attachments to Dropbox!
Recommended if: Your email is really, really out of control, but you rely on it for literally every aspect of your personal and business life (ahem, me).
Cost: $7-$36 depending on the plan you choose; for most of us, the lowest plan would probably be fine.
What it is: After signing up, Unroll.me displays a list of every single email listserv you’re subscribed to. Add the ones you want to keep to your “Roll Up”, unsubscribe from the ones you don’t. From then on, all the subscriptions you want to keep will arrive via a single email in an easy to follow daily digest. You can even set the time of day your digest arrives! It’s as amazing as it sounds. You guys might remember me mentioning this service here; I still swear by it and don’t know how I lived without it!
Recommended if: Your email newsletter subscriptions are out of control, but you want to stay subscribed for the occasional sale or promotional code. I personally love seeing all my emails from J.Crew, Anthropologie, Club Monaco, et al in one place, everyday.
What it is: Mailbox is a redesigned Inbox that you can add to your mobile devices, for when you’re emailing on the go. The app allows you to quickly work through emails, swiping and slashing to move things to archives and trash. It also has a snooze functionality, and you can set up push notifications to receive new emails on your home screen.
Recommended if: You hate both the native iOS or Android Mail app, and can’t get behind Gmail’s mobile app either.
What it is: Basically what it sounds like. With Email Game, you set a timer and compete against yourself to make it through your Inbox!
Recommended if: You’re super competitive by nature. And have a lot of emails you’ve been avoiding. Is it sad that I think playing this “game” would make me anxious? But more power to you if it helps!
What it is: Boomerang allows you to control when you send and receive messages in the Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers. You can set reminders for yourself to send emails, as well as to follow up with people when you haven’t heard back, and you can automatically schedule messages to go out whenever you want!
Recommended if: You need a way to pace when you’re receiving responses. For me, I often find that if I get on an email kick and clean out my Inbox, sending all those emails usually results in responses back…which defeats the purpose of the clean out session entirely! If you work in a position where you have clients, it’s also a great way to remind yourself to follow up with new leads. I’ll admit that I sometimes am also dealing with client emails on the weekends, but I hesitate to send them at 11pm on a Saturday (oy, I can’t believe I just wrote that). It’s a boundary setting thing — even if I’m working, I don’t always want to be available to people 24/7, you know? Boomerang provides a great way to set those boundaries and expectations. Basically, I can’t wait to integrate this one!
What it is: A nifty app that integrates into your Gmail and allows you to turn emails into tasks. With Taskforce, you can even share those tasks with friends and colleagues, regardless of whether they use the app!
Recommended if: You find that new emails result in adding new items to your To-Do list. Taskforce allows them to be one in the same. For me, there are those emails from friends that I sometimes need an hour to sit down and spend some time responding to — telling stories, updating them on my life, etc. This sounds like it’ll allow me to schedule in that time as a To-Do item. If only Taskforce integrated with ToDoist!!
I hope this list was helpful and interesting for you guys! Cheers to an Inbox of zero.