The state of your inbox does not have to induce stress. If you're dealing with too many emails (as so many of us are) there are some great apps you can download to make your inbox cleaner and help you send the emails you really need to send on time. A clear inbox can lead to a clear mind, after all!
Check out a few of the decluttering apps we've tested, then try a few out for yourself:
1. Use Organizer to sort your emails automatically
You can spend time organizing your emails into folders and creating filters, or you could get an app that does it for you. Organizer, from a company called OtherInbox, goes through your inbox and puts your emails into folders for you.
Go to the website for Other Inbox’s Organizer, and click “Sign Up for Organizer.”
Then, you’ll be asked to pick which type of email you have: Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. You’ll then be asked to accept Organizer’s Terms & Conditions.
“Behind the scenes, anonymous data about how people interact with commercial (not personal) messages helps us improve email, stop spam, and prevent phishing attacks,” the app's site explains. But even though it says it's using your data for good, you should always be careful about what apps you entrust with your passwords and email.
Once you accept, you choose which inbox you’d like to organize, and the Organizer starts sorting through your emails automatically. It takes a while for Organizer to get through them all, but once it’s finished you’ll see the following in your inbox:
Your inbox will now have a big folder called OIB (short for "other inbox"). This is filled with specialized categories like Jobs, Help, Home, Groups and Shopping. Your filtering is done for you.
2. Use Boomerang to send emails later
It’s not always appropriate or necessary to respond to an email right when you get it. You don’t want to respond to a work email in the middle of the night, but you don’t want to forget to respond later. Boomerang is a Gmail app that lets you set a time for emails to automatically send later. You can get it for Firefox, Chrome or Safari, and it also works for Google Apps.
Interested? First, go to Boomerang's website and download Boomerang. After agreeing to its Terms & Services, you'll see some changes in your Gmail inbox.
When you go to send an email, you'll see the option to "Send Later." When you click that, you'll see the following choices:
You can decide when you want to send your email, and Boomerang will send it for you. Here’s a little guide on how to use it:
Boomerang also has some other cool features that you can try out: For example, you can set it up to tell you when someone has opened an email you've sent them, even if they haven't replied to it. Creepy but useful.
3. Use FollowUpThen to remind you to respond to emails
You'll never forget to respond to an email or follow up with someone again. FollowUpThen sends you reminder emails or text messages whenever you need them and for any purpose. You could set a reminder email to respond to someone, to remember someone's birthday, an event or anything else for which you would need a reminder.
You just send an email to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 8pm@followupthen, email@example.com, or pretty much any time you could think of. You can set up recurring reminders or one-time emails. The company's website has a handy list of suggestions, but you can do almost anything you want.
You can email an @followupthen.com email address directly, or put it in the CC or the BCC fields of any email. If you send the email to yourself or put an @followupthen.com email address in the BCC, only you will get the reminder email. If you add the email address to CC, everyone you emailed gets a follow up and so do you.
Here's what it looks like to send an email with an @followupthen.com email address in BCC:
Once you send an email, FollowUpThen will ask you to confirm your email address and create an account with a password.
When you get a follow-up email, it looks like this:
If you want some more information about this tool, here's a video that will help you use FollowUpThen:
4. Unsubscribe from lists with Unroll Me
Your inbox is likely crowded with unwanted emails from stores, restaurants and websites. Odds are, you're deleting these emails, ignoring them or filtering them out of your inbox. With Unroll Me, you can unsubscribe from whatever ones you want, and your inbox will be free and clear. Here's how you do it.
First, go to the Unroll Me website and click "Get Started Now." Then input your email address and agree to the company's terms. It will take a few minutes for Unroll Me to go through all of your emails.
Once it's ready, Unroll Me will show you an alphabetical list of all of your subscriptions, like this:
Start clicking "Unsubscribe" for anything you don't want anymore. Unroll Me will stop you after you unsubscribe from five lists and ask you to share a post about Unroll Me to unsubscribe from more lists, which is annoying. If you'd rather not have all of your Facebook friends knowing that you're doing some spring cleaning, make sure Facebook is set to "Only Me" instead of "Public" or "Friends." Then you can post something about Unroll Me without anyone else seeing it and continue to unsubscribe to your heart's content!
Other ways to combat email overload
If you're not into downloading apps or you're looking for some extra tips to keep your email under control, there are some good habits you can start developing.
Don't check your email first thing in the morning. Though it's tempting to open your eyes, turn on your smartphone and immediately check your email, you shouldn't do it. Email can distract you from the work you need to get done, since it's more reactive than proactive. Once you start dealing with all of the things other people need from you, you won't have much time left to complete any of your own goals. Instead, wait a few hours before checking your email each morning.
Use Priority Inbox in Gmail. Gmail can help you stay organized by separating important messages from unimportant ones. The Priority Inbox sits above your regular inbox and contains only the emails that Gmail has deemed important.
To decide if an email is important, Gmail looks at who sent it and who your regular chat and email contacts are, as well as common keywords. If you're often emailing people about your dog Buster, Gmail will likely mark any emails that contain the name Buster as important. You can go through your regular inbox and Priority Inbox and mark emails as important and unimportant, teaching Gmail which emails you want in each inbox.
With Priority Inbox, you are able to quickly see what's important without having to wade through your entire inbox.
Here's a little video explainer:
Send fewer emails. It sounds obvious, but if you send fewer emails, you'll receive fewer emails. The fewer emails you receive, the fewer emails you'll have to deal with and answer. Simple as that!