Email can be overwhelming — especially if you lose control. Happens to me quite often. Have you experienced issues with organizing Email in your day-to-day work? Are you using effective organizing email tools?
And boy is it easy to lose control. After all, email is one of the top ways we communicate with a lot of the people in our lives, from our best friends to people we’ve never spoken with before.
Many of us get bombarded by new emails on a regular basis. It’s stressful to know that we might be missing out on the truly important stuff amid the flood of less related stuff.
Are communication technologies like Slack, Yammer, and Skype helping us, or just getting in the way? Indeed, they have made it easier to communicate, share information and collaborate with colleagues. However, is all that new communication preventing us from getting important work done?
In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Bain & Co. partner Michael Mankins estimates that while a typical executive in the 1970’s might have received 1,000 messages a year, that number has skyrocketed to more than 30,000 today and argues that we may “have reached the point of diminishing returns.”
I think just about everyone can see his point. Today, the amount of meetings, emails and IM’s we receive can seem overwhelming, and it’s increasingly hard to find uninterrupted quiet time to concentrate. However, the nature of work has changed. The real reason that we communicate more is that today, we need to collaborate more to be effective.
I love to read, learn, and try new things. Like new apps for my smartphone and iPad. Often, I’ll see something that I want to try, save, and connect with other new apps I am using.
There are many apps for workers looking to improve productivity with organizing email like me that can be a big help in this regard. And less wasted time? Yes, superb for that also.
Related: 12 Extraordinary Graphic Design Tools You Should be Using
Ponder for a moment … the iPad, Cloud computing, and Apps. A few years ago, they barely existed. Now they’re an integral part of our lives. That swift journey from nonexistent to indispensable seems to happen a lot these days. But it gives us unlimited access to improve our learning and utility for things like through apps and idea connection.
This makes you think: What organizing email productivity apps were you not using two years ago that today you can’t imagine living without today?
Luckily, there are a lot of tools out there that can help us get more organized. In this post, we’ll go through our favorite tools for organizing email in your inbox. Try them out, and help paves your way to a more productive and less stressful email experience.
Organizing email tools … Unroll.me
The first step to relieving your inbox from all that email is to unsubscribe from all the newsletters you’ve subscribed to. But unsubscribing manually from tens, maybe hundreds of newsletters would take forever.
Enter Unroll.me, a free tool that lets you mass unsubscribe from all the newsletters you don’t read. You can either wipe the slate clean and unsubscribe from everything at once, or you can pick and choose.
Email management tools … FollowUpThen
Price: Free; Paid Versions Available
Here’s another simple but useful tool. This tool is for reminding you — and even your clients, if you want — to follow up on specific emails.
Here’s how it works: Compose an email, and then include [any time]@followupthen.com in the “Bcc,” “Cc,” or “To” fields of your email. The “anytime” wording here is pretty flexible:
It can be “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “email@example.com,” “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “email@example.com,” “firstname.lastname@example.org,” and so on.
What happens to that email when you click “send” depends on where you put that @followupthen.com email address:
- Bcc: You’ll get a follow-up regarding the email (without bothering the original recipient).
- Cc: The tool will schedule a reminder for you and the recipient.
- To: The tool will send an email to your future self.
It works for every email client, and it’s free for up to 50 follow-ups per month. You can increase the number of follow-ups and add features like calendar integration for between $2–$9 per month.
IFTTT, short for “If This Then That,” is a fantastic productivity tool. It helps you connect the apps and devices you use every day with “if this, then that” statements. They are also known as “recipes.”
When it comes to inbox productivity, IFTTT can do wonders for automating some of the more tedious, manual tasks. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Get a text message when a particular person emails you.
- Send email attachments to Dropbox.
- Save starred emails to Evernote.
- Schedule reminders tomorrow for the emails you star in your inbox today.
- Add “receipt” or “order” emails to a Google spreadsheet.
- Track your work hours by adding an entry into a Google spreadsheet every time you arrive at or leave your office.
- Turn emails into Trello cards.
Google learned a lot about how people use email from Gmail. Instead of revamping Gmail with these new learnings, they decided to start fresh. Instead, they created an entirely new inbox system: Inbox.
To understand how Inbox works, it’s best to think of it as a task-focused message management tool. Every time an email comes in, you can process each one as a task.
If you’re not ready to respond to an email, you can select “snooze” and tell the app when to display the email again. Or, if the email is something you need to do at a particular location, you can ask Inbox to remind you. Remind you about that message when you’re at a particular location.
Another thing that makes it different from other email apps? It’s mobile-friendly. To use it, you’ll have first to install the mobile app on iOS or Android. Only then can you access Inbox from your desktop browser at http://inbox.google.com.
I couldn’t write a blog post about inbox organization without including my go-to strategy for getting to — and maintaining — inbox zero. This tool isn’t an add-on; it’s a methodology developed by Andreas Klinger. It uses two, built-in features in Gmail: “individual stars” (a slightly fancier labeling system than Gmail labels) and multiple inboxes. Many people have told me it’s changed the way they use email and has made their lives a lot easier. I highly recommend it.
There’s just one, a notable caveat: No individual stars other than the yellow star are supported by Gmail’s mobile app, so you won’t be able to see your lists on mobile.
Price: Free for Basic; Paid Versions Available
Boomerang is a powerful tool I’ve been using for years to manage my Gmail inbox. This Chrome extension for Gmail users does two things well:
- It lets you schedule emails to be sent later.
- It allows you to archive emails that will reemerge in your inbox later as an unread message.
The second concept here is similar to that of FollowUpThen, except you have a lot more control over tracking and changing the times at which emails reemerge in your inbox. It’s free (for Basic) and works on desktop and mobile, including Android.
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Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.