Turning a blind eye to the thousands of emails rotting in your Inbox is not an option. And deleting them all doesn’t count as organizing, I promise you. I totally get it if you’ve resorted to that tactic before, though.
Email overwhelm is a very real phenomenon many of us deal with every day. The sheer volume of the incoming messages can be so intense that all you can handle is picking out and dealing with the urgent ones. (Especially if you enter every “Win a Trip to Bali!” sweepstakes and end up subscribed to 1500 different marketing lists.) Then, you probably click on some less urgent ones and make a mental note to respond later—a well-intentioned but ineffective strategy, since that email will have made its way into the black hole of your inbox’s fifth page by the morning.
Here’s how we’re going to fix this: There are plenty of great email apps that can help you organize your inbox into a more manageable project. From apps that get rid of email blasts from the shoe store you’ve never even heard of to apps that help you mark and file emails so you know where to find them, these will seriously change your (email) life.
If newsletters and marketing emails are your biggest problem, Unroll.me might be all you need. It’s an incredibly simple app that helps you unsubscribe from lots of lists at once. All you do is log in and it syncs with your email server and shows you an alphabetical list of everything you’re subscribed to. (The number will likely be a little shocking—it was for me!) Then, you scroll down and click “Keep in Inbox” or “Unsubscribe” for each one. If you choose unsubscribe, the app manages canceling the subscription for you. If you choose to keep, you can always go into the Inbox tab later and change your mind. A third option: you can also choose to add emails to a “roll up” if you’d prefer for the app to send you, say, all of your shopping emails in one daily package instead of individually.
Inbox by Gmail
Speaking of Gmail filters, Google’s app, Inbox by Gmail, is what I use every day. It’s like my home away from home.. It goes beyond the filters you may be used to employing in your desktop inbox and groups messages into bundles that really cut clutter. For instance, it automatically puts emails related to trips into their own bundles, so all of your flight and hotel info for your last-minute business trip to LA will be in one place without you having to lift a finger. (TSA agents likely love this feature, since it cuts down on “fumbling with phone for boarding pass” time.) It also bundles purchases and finance emails so receipts and bills don’t clog up your communication. Other great features: The app shows you “highlights” based on the kinds of emails you open and reply to much often, which will help you avoid missing something important, and you can add reminders and “snooze” emails you want to come back to shortly.
Chuck takes an unconventional visual approach to email that may work for you if your brain likes to see more of what’s happening at once. The screen setup allows you to manage more of your emails at once and sort them vertically (as opposed to almost all of the others that have sidebar categories). And if you pay for the pro version, it will learn your behavior and point out messages you can remove without reading and scour your inbox to offer “clean-up” suggestions.
Newton’s the suit-and-tie-office version of email apps. It does offer a “tidy inbox” setup that allows you to pick categories of emails you want to skip your main inbox—like newsletters and social—and it allows you to hit snooze on emails you want to read in the afternoon, tomorrow, or Saturday. But its most unique special features are tech upgrades to old-school business favorites, like read receipts, undo send, and the ability to schedule emails to send at a certain time. Not to mention that it integrates really well with project management software systems like Asana and Evernote.
With Mailstrom, things get a little more sophisticated. This desktop app (not available for your phone) also allows you to easily see the lists you’re subscribed to and unsubscribe if you wish, but it also bundles email in other ways, allowing you to deal with lots of messages in different categories at once. For instance, a sidebar allows you to sort your emails by categories like the time they arrived, the sender, or social media networks. So if you wanted to quickly see all of the emails from your boss, for example, you could sort by sender. You could then take it a step further and create a “rule,” which is a lot like a Gmail filter. Tell Mailstrom to put all messages from that person in one place, and you’ll be able to click into those directly rather than have any get lost in the shuffle.
Have you tried an email apps that have really helped you manage your daily message flow? Tell me about your experiences in the comments, below!