We all use email, either we like it or not. Some of us have perfected their email management habits, while others still struggle with email overload and Inbox Zero seems a distant dream.
Email hasn’t changed much over the last decade, however, one trend is noticeable: we are not stuck into desktop email clients, rather a browser tab. With open APIs provided by Google and other email services many useful apps have popped up that lessen our email ordeal.
Enjoy this thoroughly tested email tools and read suggested articles to tame email.
Tracking, Scheduling, FUP, CRM:
Email is boring. Email is painful. The Email Game simplifies and gamifies the way you conquer your inbox and does it very well. It integrates very well with Gmail, Google Calendar and will make you race to Inbox zero in literally minutes.
I like to start my day with The Email Game and try to be the winner.
Sane box is a complete solution for adding advanced features to your inbox. It works with almost any email client and adds tons of features to manage your email flow like a pro:
- Filtering based on sophisticated algorithms – you will get emails that matter;
- Moving attachments to your Dropbox;
- Easy unsubscribing;
- Summaries and many more.
While Sane Box is a useful addition to your email habits, it’s not free as most of the solutions. However, for the work it does, Sane Box deserves one snack or lunch worth money from you.
If you are a sales rep or just happened to have to FUP a lot of people and CRM is too big for you, give followup.cc a try. It’s a simple reminder system for emails. All you have to do is add BCC recipient when you would liked to be reminded, e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.
What is more, it integrates into your calendar and has a Salesforce addon.
Boomerang is a Gmail extension that works with major browsers and allows you to schedule email for sending later and FUP your contacts. In addition, Boomerang reminds you about an email that has never been answered and works on mobile as well.
Right Inbox is another solution to help you stay on track with your email. It allows you to schedule emails, add reminders, track emails and clicks. Will work only with Gmail and only in your browser.
ToutApp offers a manifold array of tools in one package. It tracks email open rate, clicks, geography and more. Call it email analytics if you wish.
ToutApp also has special templates you can use to minimize time spent writing emails, lets you schedule emails to send later, and offers integration with Salesforce and other CRMs. This application will work not only with Gmail, but also with Outlook and Apple Mail version is coming soon as well.
This app has been my favorite for a long time. It integrates into Gmail and puts Google People widget to shame. Rapportive connects with your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account to show relevant information about a person right beside a conversation in Gmail. You can follow people on Twitter and add a connection on LinkedIn with one click, see their picture and even get latest updates from social networks!
Rapport also shows you shared interests and you can leave notes on contact’s profile. A very useful app to get to know a sender better and grow your network.
I first got to play with Xobni (it’s Inbox vice versa!) about three years ago when they were in closed beta and supported Outlook only. Now Xobni supports Gmail as well and has added many new features to their application.
It’s very similar to Rapportive, and allows you to see contact’s social profiles too. However, it also shows your recent email threads, attachments and all relevant information for a particular email address.
Super fast search is a killer feature of Xobni. They do some magic to scan your entire email database and can pull what you need in a snap! And if you are an analytics lover, Xobni will give you nice stats and diagrams on your email usage and contacts.
Xobni also comes as an app for your mobile phone and acts as an advanced contacts application. In fact, that’s the only application you will need to manage your contacts.
This guys are doing a job everyone hates – they keep your address book constantly up-to-date! For those, who do not have a personal assistant this is a tremendous helper!
All you have to do is run it once and forget about it. Write That.name works on their servers in background and you actually are not required to update or download anything.
Magic doesn’t come for free (although there is a free version) and will cost you $23 or $45 per year.
If you are paranoid that Google will delete your Gmail account or just a bit old-fashioned, Gmvault is for you. It’s a simple and highly customisable email backup solution.
It allows you to download a copy of your Gmail account, updates it regularly, encrypts(!) the content and allows you to restore to any account!
That’s it, take your Gmail off cloud and feel like an actual owner of your data.
Google’s own service to backup all your data. Not only for Gmail, but for all your Google accounts from Drive to Voice and YouTube. You can configure any of the backups and batch-download what you need.
No sync, no encryption.
If you happen to be a subscription slut like I do, I recommend you get acquainted with Unroll.me. I’ve been waiting for this kind of applications for several years – Unroll.me scans your Gmail and allows you to unsubscribe from any subscription in one click. Some of the subscription are more tricky and will require more clicks, but it does feel great to unsubscribe from hundred of email lists in minutes.
Unroll.me can put all your subscriptions into a single email and deliver it to you during preferred time of the day.
Swizzle does everything else Unroll.me does, but manages to find more subscription than Uroll.me (well for me anyways). It comes with a digest feature as well that gathers all your subscriptions into one email delivered daily.
Notes for Gmail gives you an ability to annotate emails right from Gmail interface. You can pin notes to the top of your inbox and get back to it later or share any note on Twitter or Facebook.
It has integrated nicely into my everyday email routine as it gives you an ability to defer an email efficiently and always have an eye on what to FUP without additional emails.
If you want to customize the look and feel of Gmail this app is for you. Features are endless and start with the ability to hide ads to adding color to Gmail navigation buttons and displaying attachment icons next to an email.
I’m sure you will find a tweak you’ve been waiting for from Google to make it way into the Labs, which never ended up there.
Let’s admit it – you don’t control your inbox; this carousel spins in another direction. When you actually want some work to be done it’s essential to power off all notifications.
Inbox Pause does it with style. Little blue pause button is added to Gmail header. Once pressed you can focus on work instead of demanding pop-ups.
Articles to read
There have been a lot of useful articles with how-to’s and advice on email management and style. Here is a list for your read-it-later service:
“Six months ago I deleted email from my phone by unlinking my Gmail account from the iPhone Mail app. Technically I could still check my email using Safari but I use 1Password to manage my passwords and the experience on mobile requires several, fairly time consuming steps to retrieve a password for an application and login to it. It’s certainly enough friction to break the urge to login and check email while e.g. walking or during a conversation.”
“If you find Unroll.me or Gmail’s own unsubscribe feature ineffective, this Gmail filter works a treat for me:
Has the words: “If this email does not display properly”, skip inbox.”
“Don’t worry: this isn’t yet another Getting Things Done love-in. GTD probably works, but it doesn’t work for you (or me). There are plenty of great apps to help you manage your life and your tasks, like OmniFocus and so on, but they won’t work for you. You won’t devote the time to organise all the stuff.”
- Most emails do not have to be sent at all.
- Email is not always the best medium.
- Send fewer emails, get fewer emails.
- Below are examples of common scenarios that show you when to send or not to send emails.”
“No matter how basic a life skill, it’s something you still have to learn. And unfortunately, nobody seems to be teaching young folks the components of an effective email, despite the fact that it forms the backbone of modern communication. Knowing how to write a good email—one that will actually get a response–is crucial to your success: it can make the difference between whether or not you get a job, find a mentor, get funding for an idea, or receive potentially life-changing advice.”
“Want to know a secret?
I am not always reachable.
I don’t always answer my phone. Sometimes, I don’t check email all day.
And I get a lot more done because of it.”
“For me, the amount of email that arrives is inversely proportionate to my amount of free time. This means the less time I have to read mail, the more mail that arrives. Greater minds than mine have attempted to tackle this unfortunate time management situation, so I’m going to keep it simple. You and I are busy people. We may or may not know each other, but we have the same goal – how can each of us effectively surf an ever-growing pile of information?
To this end, I would like to come to an agreement with you. Let’s agree to small set of rules that we’ll follow when we mail each other, ok?”
“If you want to get in touch with influential people (aka: BUSY people), you need to know how to email them.
Despite the buzz around social media, far more people use email to communicate than any other online medium, and business today still gets done over email, not through tweets.
Today, I’m going to show you the elements of the PERFECT outreach email, and how you email busy people the right way in order to make things happen.”
“Hey:” means you expect something from me.
“Greetings:” denotes that I signed up for your dreadful boutique’s mailing list in hopes of impressing somebody in the store, and now I resent all of the parties involved, myself most of all.
“Hello” signifies that you spent too much time thinking about everything that follows, or that you are high.
“I once worked at an ad agency that forced employees to use an email signature. And not only did we have to have an email signature, but we had to rotate in new talking points about the company into the signature every week. “Did you know that Sturding Pooper Raper Lice was ranked a Top 50 Agency by AdWeek?” I quit that job after two months. Never in human history has a human being looked at an email signature and been like, “Whoa hey, I have to hire that person!”
“We know how you feel. Getting (and answering) rude emails is something many of us have to deal with, and it can really put a damper on your day. Luckily, we have a few tricks that should help you get through those emails without a problem and move on.”
For those who made it till the end of the list, here is a great HTML5 story from Google about the story every email sent on Gmail:
That’s it! Hope you will superpower your email and learn how to manage it masterfully.
What are your favorite tools and practices?