Every year you’re spending 560 hours managing work email.
That’s right. According to McKinsey, 28% of the average work week is spent reading and answering work emails. Based on a typical 40-hour schedule, that’s 11.2 hours per week, or 560 hours each year.
That number may not be a shock. After all, most of us recognize email to be a necessary evil. But when you begin to think about all you could accomplish with just a portion of those hours back, you may realize the huge drain that email is on your productivity.
In fact, the same study from McKinsey estimates that we could get back 7 to 8 hours each week if we did a better job of managing our email. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use an extra work day every week!
In my experience, there are really just three ways that you can improve your inbox productivity.
- Prioritize your email – By prioritizing better, you’ll be addressing your most important emails first. This typically means having to slog through all of the less critical messages or (worse!) the junk email to figure out which messages are most important.
- Spend less time checking and responding to email – This means either figuring out how to be more efficient when addressing messages or simply setting a time limit and holding yourself to it.
- Unsubscribe from unnecessary email – Simply put – if you get all the junk and unwanted email out of your inbox, it makes it easier to both prioritize and spend less time on email.
The good news is that there are many tools out there that can help you manage your inbox. The bad news is that you have to sift through all the noise to go and find them. I’m sure you’d love to cut down on the time, stress, and chaos that email creates, but we both know you don’t have time to sift through all of the tools and tricks out there.
Lucky for you, I’ve already invested that time. Keep reading and I’ll share the 5 best tools I’ve found to make your inbox more organized and productive.
Throttle is a brilliant browser extension. It generates a unique email address for anything you need to sign up for online – newsletters, eBook downloads, apps and so much more. Throttle will even help you bring over your existing services too. It then puts all of your messages into one beautiful, daily email. Throttle removes the less important emails from your inbox so you can focus only on the most important messages.
It also makes you more secure since you don’t have to give out your email address. And that’s not all – Throttle gives you complete control over all of your subscriptions. In one click, you can revoke access from any sender. This doesn’t just unsubscribe you from their list, it actually shuts down that uniquely generated email address. Throttle is the only tool we’ve found that will help improve inbox productivity in all three ways.
Benefits: Helps you prioritize, Saves you time, Helps you unsubscribe
IFTTT is a powerhouse tool that can be used to simplify your entire life, not just your inbox. However, relating to inbox productivity, IFTTT can help you automate tedious manual tasks that take up precious time.
You can create endless email-related “recipes” such as creating a reminder for high priority emails, saving attachments directly to Google Drive, sending important emails to Evernote, or receiving a text message when certain people email you. IFTTT takes these manual tasks off your plate, freeing up time for you to focus on what really matters.
Benefits: Saves you time
Sidekick helps you be the boss of your inbox. With this extension, you’ll know who opens your emails and when, you’ll get detailed profiles about contacts right in your inbox and you can even schedule emails to send at the ideal time.
The scheduling feature lets you crank out emails when it’s most productive for you, but deliver them to your recipient when they’re most likely to get opened. With detailed contact information, you’ll have everything you need to know about your recipient right in front of you as you write your email, saving you time from having to search LinkedIn or past email threads for things like title, company name, mutual connections and more.
Sidekick saves you time and makes you a more powerful email user.
Price: Free or Business Plan ($50/user/month)
Benefits: Saves you time
Have you ever tried scheduling a meeting over email? How about a group meeting with several participants?
The back and forth can get out of control when trying to manage all participants’ busy schedules, leading to piles of unnecessary email. Calendly lets you get all of this done with one email.
You simply set your availability and then send out an invite to all parties. They choose the time that’s convenient for them, and you avoid an entire chain of complicated and painful back and forth. It’s a simple principle but will make scheduling meetings the easiest thing you do all day.
Price: Free or Premium Plan ($8/month)
Benefits: Helps you prioritize, Saves you time
5. Todoist for email
Last, but certainly not least, Todoist’s Gmail and Outlook extensions make you uber productive, by seamlessly integrating their beautiful task manager into your inbox. This allows you to review all of your to-do tasks and projects right from your email.
You can instantly turn emails into tasks, setting deadlines and labels as needed. The best part? You can access your to-do list from anywhere, and when you click on a task that you created from the extension, you’ll be taken back to the original email.
No more searching through your inbox looking for a message from weeks ago or letting things slip through the cracks. The Todoist email integration takes your inbox to the next level of productivity.
Price: Free or Premium Plan ($28.99/year)
Benefits: Saves you time
Sadly, we can’t yet predict a future where email doesn’t exist. But these five tools will help you spend less time managing your inbox and potentially give you hours back each day.
All of these tools have a free option, so give them a try and see what sticks!
Got any other favorite tools for streamlining email? Tell me in the comments below.
Guest Author: Christopher Riegger is an expert on growth and list building for businesses. Check out his writing at Growth Fruit.