You probably receive hundreds of emails every day – from clients, colleagues, industry peers, friends and family. A McKinsey study found that people spend 28% of their week reading/answering emails. This equates to over 500 hours per year. Another large-scale study by IBM researchers confirms the ineffectiveness of what I call email house-keeping: organising emails. Cluttered inboxes are a significant drain on time, focus and energy, adversely affecting productivity. Confronted with more than 100 new emails to read on a Monday morning, you may even feel your will to live slipping away. But email is here to stay; we can’t get away from it, but we can change how we interact with it. Here’s a quick summary of six tools which will help you interact better with your email. All of them are free to install unless indicated otherwise.
#1 Unroll me
Described by others as a ‘game changer’, and by me as a ‘no-brainer’, Unroll me will organise the chaos of your inbox. Unroll me’s features will allow you to:
- List all your subscription emails and give you the option to unsubscribe from them – it conveniently arranges them in alphabetical order for you
- Condense all your subscriptions into a daily digest, called the ‘Rollup’
- Categorise your subscriptions so you can easily find what you want
Unroll me lets you unsubscribe from five subscriptions, after which you’re asked to “help out by sharing”. A Fair trade off. It currently supports Outlook.com (including Hotmail, MSN, & Windows Live), Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, and iCloud.
TIP: A search on the phrase in: inbox unsubscribe will generate a plenitude of emails you may wish to junk.
#2 Cloud Magic
An award winning email app for Android, CloudMagic will scan all your folders and find whatever you need instantly. Age of item searched for is not a barrier. What’s more, everything is stored in one place, so you no longer have to search across multiple folders. The app also lets you assign reminders to emails that you need to action. Moreover, thanks to CloudMagic’s ingenious ‘cards’, with just a single tap, you can save items onto business tools such as Evernote, One Note or Trello.
CloudMagic works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, Google Apps, Office 365 and any IMAP account. Install from Google Play.
Designed for ‘a world on the go’, Mailbox (in conjunction with Dropbox) provides users with a great way to prioritise emails. Mailbox makes lightning-quick work of dealing with emails: easily swipe emails into archives or trash and scan entire conversations using Mailbox’s chat-like view. Print emails, mark them as ‘spam’ or ‘unread’, and ‘star’ emails. Mailbox ‘challenges assumptions’ about how email works: “We don’t just need better tools for dealing with the mail we get, we need more control over what demands our attention in the first place.”
Mailbox is compatible with OSX, iPhone, iPad and Android. Available from iTunes.
Does your sanity depend on having an inbox free of messages? SaneBox is a service that promises ‘3 steps to get to inbox zero’. It prioritises important emails based on your past interactions with your inbox. Unimportant messages are moved into a ‘SaneLater’ folder. Emails from here are summarised into a daily digest. You can ‘train’ SaneBox to identify what is and isn’t important: if you connect it to Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter, for example, it learns to recognise better which senders are important. There are other SaneBox folders which do nifty things: the SaneBlack Hole banishes unwanted guests into your trash folder, SaneNext Week and SaneTomorrow folders send emails back into your inbox for a later date. SaneBox will also inform you if someone doesn’t reply to one of your messages by a certain date, so you can follow up.
Although SaneBox isn’t free, it does offer a free 14-day trial. It works with any email program or provider and on any device or operating system.
#5 Aqua Mail
This highly customisable app sets up a ‘Smart Inbox’ that includes messages that may need attention, or which you can return to at a later time. You can sort your messages in a variety of ways, such as by date, by sender or by attachments, which means you can prioritise the ones that include these variables. A nifty feature is the ability to create custom replies you can add to messages, for example: “I’m abroad and won’t be able to respond to your message as quickly as normal.”
Aquamail enables easy automatic set up for most email services: Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Apple mail services and more.
Taskbox functions as both an email client and a to-do list. It allows you to swipe messages and quickly assign to spam, archive or trash folders, or turn them into tasks. You can prioritise tasks, give them due-by dates and assign them to people. There’s also the ability to sort according to date received, level of importance or due date. You can also manually organise your messages, so important emails can be moved to the top of your inbox.
Taskbox works only in Gmail and Google Apps accounts. It’s available for $9.99 from iTunes.
With these six tools it should be much easier to get control of that elusive inbox that so many of us neglect or pretend doesn’t exist.