Your Gmail inbox is flooded every day by an overwhelming deluge of information. The sheer volume is enough to make you dread checking your inbox in the mornings.
Fortunately, there are a few apps and services that can help keep this email avalanche down to a manageable level. Here are the three Gmail productivity extensions that I just can’t do without.
I’m willing to bet that most of us can’t remember all of the email newsletters and subscriptions we’re signed up to. Unless you’re very meticulous in setting your filters and labels, all those newsletters, Amazon offers, Facebook notifications, etc, while seemingly useful at first, soon become a daily stream of distraction.
Even if you have gone to the effort of setting up filters, the emails sit in folders almost begging and screaming to be read just to reduce the unread email count. This just kills productivity and focus.
I’ve been using a Gmail extension called Unroll.me to keep my head above the email flood. It allows you to pinpoint and unsubscribe from the mailing lists you don’t want while retaining those that still hold your interest.
Better still, it “rolls” the emails you do want to receive into a single more digestible email that it sends at the same time every day.
When you first sign up for Unroll.me, it scans your inbox for subscription-based emails. You can choose which you want to unsubscribe from and which should be added to the digest email, called the Rollup.
Unroll.me’s Rollup digest in grid view. You can also switch to list view.
You can choose when you receive the Rollup, view previously sent Rollups, and even take a sneak peak at the next one. The newsletters, notifications, and such remain in your inbox and can be found in the Unroll.me folder that the app automatically creates.
It’s not hard to see the appeal in receiving just one subscription email instead of hundreds every day. Unroll.me keeps your inbox nice and tidy; you spend less time on your inbox and more time getting work done.
One approach I used to use when I couldn’t immediately attend to an important email was to mark it as unread. That way, I had a constant reminder that there was still at least one thing to be done before I could pack up and go home.
It kind of worked, except of course it also meant that at times I had an inbox full of unread emails. The Chrome add-on ActiveInbox remedies that problem by letting you clear your inbox of unread emails without losing sight of any email-related tasks that have yet to be completed.
ActiveInbox is a kind of shortcut to David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) process: delete the emails you can, file those you can’t or don’t want to act on yet, and deal with those you can reply to in under two minutes.
The app lets you turn emails into actionable, trackable tasks, effectively turning Gmail into a task manager. For example, you can assign a due date to an email and receive an alert from Gmail when that date comes. When you ask someone else to do something, ActiveInbox can track their response.
Perhaps best of all, it gets rid of that niggling, back-of-the-mind feeling of “I really should reply to that email” and then wondering exactly where it has been filed!
I’ve been running with ActiveInbox for maybe two weeks now. I know I have only just done the basic setup, but already the change in how I manage my daily email has freed up a minimum of 45 minutes per day. Or to think of this another way, almost 4hours a week or a staggering 10 full days per year.
WORK[etc] Gmail CRM plugin
The WORK[etc] Gmail CRM plugin lets users turn any email into an actionable activity or item within the WORK[etc] web app. It also allows you to share an email with other people on your team without having to forward it to everybody.
Once you integrate G Suite (apps google) into your WORK[etc] account, you’ll notice a gadget on the bottom of your Gmail emails. With just one or two extra clicks, this gadget lets you:
- turn any email into a sales lead,
- update a project or contact with new information,
- create a new timesheet, expense, or invoice with the email attached,
- create an event and schedule a reminder,
- assign a new task or support case to a team member.
The WORK[etc] Gmail gadget helps you act quickly on any piece of communication that reaches your inbox. You don’t have to spend time switching to the web app, as it’s already right there.
What other tips and strategies have you come up with to help you keep your inbox manageable? Let us know in the comments.