Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from Elizabeth Grace Saunders, the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress, a time coach, and the founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training. Today, Elizabeth shares some of her time management expertise when it comes to organizing those chaotic email inboxes. Thank you, Elizabeth, for this incredible guide and list of resources! —Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump…
When it comes to e-mail advice, I typically stick to discussing routines, not tools. Why? Well as a time coach and the author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment I find again and again that human error accounts for more of our time investment challenges than tech deficiencies. However, a number of tools have come out that can help you manage your e-mail inbox more efficiently and effectively. I thought it was only right to share. Enjoy this done-for-you research on great e-mail tools. Then pick and choose what’s right for you!
A text expander app for Mac lets you define abbreviations for individual words, pictures, and even large paragraphs of text. This tool is especially helpful if you constantly use the same word or send the same format of e-mail. TypeIt4Me can even be used to manage passwords for all of your different accounts. For example, you can just save your Twitter password as “tpw.” And you don’t need to remember all of your TypIt4Me abbreviations. They’ll stay in your drop-down menu bar.
Compatibility: Apple OS X 10.7, OS X 10.6, OS X 10.5
30-day trial download of version 5.2.2: Free
Single user license: $4.99
Five-user family pack license: $9.99
This tool allows you to control when you send and receive e-mails. Write an e-mail and schedule it to be sent at a later time, such as a few hours or a few weeks. Use Boomerang to archive messages that you want to read again by selecting when you would like the e-mail to re-appear in you inbox. Plus, Boomerang allows you to set follow-up reminders for outgoing e-mails with “Response Tracking.” If you don’t hear back from someone by the time you designate, Boomerang will remind you to follow-up. Plus, the “Read Receipt” feature allows you to see if the person you sent the e-mail to opened it.
A few practical ways to apply this tool include:
- Writing birthday/holiday notes when you have a spare moment, then having Boomerang send them later.
- Scheduling travel plan confirmations to reappear in your inbox the day before your trip
A simple system for e-mail follow-up where you forward e-mails to @FollowUpThen and then use @followupthen in the BCC or TO lines to schedule a reminder for yourself only, or CC to schedule a reminder for you and the recipient. You can even schedule recurring reminders by sending an e-mail to @firstname.lastname@example.org. View follow-ups in your electronic calendar, or as a premium user you can schedule SMS Reminders.
A few examples from the website:
- “This e-mail is sitting in my inbox, but I don’t need it for two weeks!” (Forward it to: 2weeks@followupthen, then archive the message, and the e-mail will get sent back to you again in two weeks).
- “I have to have a response to this e-mail!” (Forward it to: 3hours@followupthen, or BCC email@example.com on the original message).
- “I need to call someone while I’m in the car.” (E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the phone number in the subject-line).
Compatibility: All e-mail accounts. Calendar follow-ups work with Google Calendar, iCal, Microsoft Outlook, and most other calendar systems.
Basic Plan: Free
- Calendar follow-ups are limited to the next three reminders
- Basic design customization where you can edit the follow up colors, intro message, and company name
- Threaded e-mail conversations where the follow-ups reference the original e-mail in long conversation exchanges
Premium users: $4.99/month or $49 for a full year (Free premium 30-day trial).
- Schedule follow-up e-mails that include attachments
- SMS reminders sent to your phone
- Unlimited calendar follow-ups
- Increased custom design options, including the ability to add your own logo
An acronym standing for, “If This, Then That,” this program ties multiple accounts onto one platform. Manage your Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Evernote, LinkedIn, plus a variety of other programs all in IFTTT. Users create “Personal Recipes” composed of “Triggers” and “Actions.” For example, “If any new photos are added to Instagram, then create a status message on Facebook.” Users can even share their personal recipes in Dropbox.
Compatibility: All e-mail accounts
This app offers a team approach to managing e-mail overload by giving everyone a common “language” to define priority and estimated time of response ranging from “in seconds” to “no response needed.” This tool offers a color coding system and also a “Concentration Inbox” view so you can quickly look at the most relevant, time-sensitive e-mails and make sure that you’re putting first things first for your organization.
All accounts that run on IMAP Protocol and all those related to Gmail. Plus, if you label an e-mail with an eRank priority and send it to someone who hasn’t downloaded eRank, in most cases it will appear with a special caption on the Subject line. Ex.) If you send an e-mail with Priority 1 (P1), the caption will read: “P1 by eRank: [Subject]”.
Price: Free 30-day trial
This e-mail management tool automatically sorts out the urgent from the non-urgent e-mails using an algorithm. Those that are urgent go directly to your inbox. Those that aren’t go directly into a “SaneLater” folder and then get sent to you as a digest on a daily basis (or more frequently if you desire). As you use SaneBox, you can help train it to be more accurate by making a correction if a note should have gone right to your inbox or should have gone to SaneLater. You can also set follow up reminders if e-mails aren’t replied to by a certain time and put e-mails in “SaneTomorrow” or “SaneNextWeek” folders.
Compatibility: All e-mail accounts. There’s nothing to install or download, Sanebox just adds a folder (or up to 3 depending on your plan) to your e-mail.
Price: All packages include a free 30-day trial, biannual billing, and SaneLater, Sane Archive, and Social Network Integration
Snack Plan: $2.04/month
1 E-mail account
1 Additional folder
Lunch Plan: $5.79/month
2 E-mail accounts
5 Additional folders
Dinner Plan: $19.54/month
3 E-mail accounts
9 Additional folders
This web app helps you to understand your e-mail patterns and to set up filters accordingly. You can view your e-mail in seven different ways: sender, subject, lists, time, social, shopping, and size. As you move messages out of your inbox and into folders, you have the option to turn what you just did into a “rule.” That means in the future those kinds of messages will automatically go into the corresponding folder without every hitting your inbox. The Mailstrom website is very simple so for more detail, you can check out this related post on Lifehacker: How I Went From 1,000 E-mails to Inbox Zero (and Stayed There) With Mailstrom.
Compatibility: Most e-mail accounts, however, the site reports that they are currently working to resolve technical difficulties with Yahoo! mail accounts, as well as Outlook accounts that are not “Pro” or IMAP enabled
I hope some of these tools provide great value for you. And here are two time coaching tips to complement the technology:
Remember e-mail takes time: Unless you receive an extremely low volume of e-mail, you’ll need to set aside some time each day to keep up on it. I often find people get behind when they resist this reality and then get extremely stressed when something falls through the cracks or becomes an emergency because they didn’t read it quickly enough.
Craft your routine based on your relationship with e-mail: Everyone has a slightly different relationship with e-mail. For those who love it, you may need to restrict yourself to not checking it until around lunch. For those of you (like me) who really don’t like e-mail, you are probably better checking it first. This is the strategy that works best for me: I knock off business e-mail at the beginning of the day so it’s done until the next morning. For e-mails that require a longer response, I turn them into a to-do item for later. Then I use personal e-mail as a quick mental break throughout the day. When I answer personal e-mail in small intervals during the day it feels pleasurable, but after work, it’s no fun.