If you’re like most office professionals, you spend a lot of time emailing. You have to delegate tasks, give updates, exchange information and stay on top of any incoming emergencies — tasks that eat up more of your day than you might realize.
By some estimates, the average American worker spends a whopping 6.3 hours every day checking email.
Of course, email is a necessary evil, and a tool that has revolutionized our productivity as a society; for instance, it’s far more efficient, in many cases, than phone calls. But imagine if you could improve your email productivity by just a fraction — let’s say 10 percent. That could save you more than 45 minutes every day.
There are various ways to increase your productivity, such as increasing your typing or reading speed, or becoming more organized. Beyond those relatively obvious areas for improvement, you’ll need the help of external productivity tools. Here are ten of the top email productivity tools to consider:
EmailAnalytics is an email analytics tool that allows you to visualize how you (or your employees) use email. The tool allows you to see how long it takes you to respond to emails; how many emails you send and receive by day of the week and time of day; whom you send the most emails to (or receive emails from); average email word counts; and dozens of other interesting data points.
These metrics let you understand where you (or your employees) are losing the most time throughout the day — and how to make up for it.
How many of those 6.3 hours do you spend wading through marketing emails, newsletters and other content you don’t really need, to do your job effectively? UnrollMe can’t tell you how much time you waste, but it will give you a full list of all the email lists you’re currently subscribed to — and give you the opportunity to un-enroll from them. It’s free, and could save you hours every week.
Boomerang is an email follow-up tool equipped with bells and whistles. I use the tool to ensure nothing ever falls through the cracks. Any time I send an email that requires a response, I simply tick a box to set a “boomerang” on it for a few days later.
If the email hasn’t received a reply by then, it returns to my inbox as an unread email. If you like to use your inbox as your to-do list, send yourself an email and boomerang it for when you want to be reminded to do it. In this way, Boomerang is an incredibly useful and versatile tool.
4. The Gmail app
What I love about the Gmail app for iOS is that it offers you simple, one-touch message replies to many of the emails you get, so you literally just tap a button to reply to an email and you’re done. It really goes to show you how many emails can be replied-to with a simple “Sounds good!” or “Thanks!” or “Okay, keep me posted.” It’s also a major time-saver, since typing on a phone is much slower than typing on a keyboard.
FollowUpThen is another email follow-up tool that allows you to easily schedule follow-ups to your most important conversations. By adding a period of time such as “tomorrow” or “3 days” followed by the @followupthen email address, you can send an email to your future self, get a reminder or set a reminder for both you and your recipients.
You’ve probably heard of IFTTT before; it’s incredibly useful for a variety of different devices and apps. IFTTT is a free service that allows you to establish “if this, then that” protocols for almost any app — in this case, email. You can use the tool to set up reminders, establish filters or automatically sort your emails.
If you’re tired of sorting all your incoming emails, SaneBox is an interesting tool to try out. It’s a series of smart filters that learn about your habits and automatically sort emails into different categories based on importance, and whether an email has gotten a response.
8. Text Expander
Text Expander is a tool that’s perfect for emailers hoping to improve their writing speed. You won’t be able to improve your raw typing speed, but you will be able to create shorthand versions of some of your most commonly used words and phrases, reducing them to a few letters instead of a long string of words.
9. The Email Game
If you’re interested in something a little more fun, and a little less intent on improving your raw productivity, try the Email Game. The Email Game is a free, interactive app that turns email management into a game, with positive feedback based on how effective you are at organizing your inbox. It’s best to try this one, or see it in action, rather than rely on a written description. Check it out!
10. Inbox Pause
If you’ve ever felt like incoming emails are as unending as a waterfall, then Inbox Pause is the dam you build. It literally adds a pause button to your Gmail that you can press in order to, quite simply, pause your inbox. Voila! No new emails will appear.
When you “unpause” your inbox, all the messages that would have appeared will appear, so you can work stress-free without letting every new email distract you from whatever you’re working on.
With these innovative email productivity tools, you’ll be able to improve your reading, writing and organization abilities faster than ever — and you’ll find yourself with multiple extra hours a week to spend on more meaningful tasks.
Experiment with each of these tools to determine which ones work best for you. Since most of them are free, you may find it worthwhile to continue to use them as long as you see some improvement.