Manage your email overload, 2017 style
How many times have you heard your colleagues complain about the several hundred emails they are not even close to addressing yet? Have you ranted, especially immediately after a long vacation away from your desk, that the vacation high got over as soon as you saw your email inbox? The next time you take a “sunshine break” with your work BFFs, notice how many times you (or they) check their email in a 15-minute period. All of us have a love-hate relationship with email now. The bearer of client win news, the messenger of all things nasty, the sheer volume in which it gets sent and received these days, email has almost taken over our work lives, at least till instant messaging and chatbots make way. And I, for one, hope that never happens!
Image : shutterstock
Now that we have established that email communication is probably the best it is ever going to get, how do we make sure we are not inundated by it? Technology, as usual, comes to the rescue. Here are the top email management tools that will give a touch of structure and minimalism to your overloaded inbox:
An unsubscribe mission with Unroll.me
We spoke about the need to unsubscribe from the hundreds of newsletters and promotional emails that make their way to the inbox. Unroll.me lets you do that for a large volume of subscriptions in one go.
Set a follow-up schedule with Followupthen
Followupthen lets you set a follow-up schedule for both your recipient and you, and lets you take that one thing off your to-do list. All you have to do is to include [when]@followupthen.com in the To, CC, or BCC fields of your email. “To” sends an email to you in future, “CC” sets a reminder for both your recipient and you, and “BCC” only sends you a reminder, with the recipient not getting any notification. The [when] part of the email is by far one of the most flexible things we have seen in an online tool. You can replace it with a date, a weekly setting like “every Tuesday”, or even an annual setting like your wedding anniversary. It even lets you ask the tool to send you an SMS reminder instead of one on email.
Pricing: Free for up to 50 reminders per email account per month, $2 to $9 for additional follow-ups and features like calendar integration.
Get a sane inbox with Sanebox
Sanebox is a really easy to use tool that automatically analyses the kind or importance of an email hitting your inbox and stores them in labeled folders. The analysis is based on your interaction with your inbox, and the tool works with nearly all email clients. I use Sanebox on my Gmail account because, as an independent professional, the number of important and unimportant emails in my personal inbox are now almost equal. The tool quickly analysed my work emails as opposed to the hundreds of promotions and reading subscriptions that hit my inbox each day, and classifies them accordingly. So, in my leisure time, I can go over my subscriptions, and during work hours, I can address work mails with zero distractions. Sanebox also comes with SaneBlackHole, a folder that lets you delete or unsubscribe en-masse.
Pricing: Flexible monthly, annual, and bi-annual plans are available, with pricing ranging from $ 7 all the way up to $ 999.
Do just about anything with IFTTT
This is a wonder boy among email tools. The header is not misleading; this tool really does let you do just about anything! IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”, and the tool connects your devices and apps using the IFTTT theory. As soon as an email hits your inbox, IFTTT analyses it and then sets an automated task in motion. For instance, it sends you an SMS as soon as a specific person emails you, updates your brand’s Instagram as soon as content is approved, saves “starred” emails to a task management tool, sends email attachments using a file transfer tool, and a whole lot more.
Let email management get fun with The Email Game
The Email Game works on the simple premise that, sometimes, we all get a little lazy and procrastinate. If you love gaming and have an inundating number of useless emails in your inbox, The Email Game is the tool for you. It gamifies the process of clearing emails. You have five seconds to address each mail in your inbox – respond immediately, “boomerang” or archive for now but resurface later, just archive, delete, or skip entirely. Each time you choose to respond, you have three minutes to do it. It is not set in stone though, and you can always take more time to respond if you need to.
As you can see, email management does not always have to be a boring exercise, a necessary devil as they say. We have trained ourselves or found tools to engage our minds in long commutes and long, boring meetings, so why not apply the same proactive approach to emails too?