For about twenty years now email has been a part of my daily routine. I use it primarily for two purposes: communication and task management. I’ve tried separating task management into a separate system but really that’s like having a second inbox because tasks have due dates and need reminders which all smacks of email. In fact many task management systems send email reminders!
I personally prefer to keep both communication and task management in my inbox.
And I also hate the idea wasting time with folders for organizing emails. Every modern inbox has search so to me an email is either in the inbox or archived.
The only trouble I’ve had is wasting time scanning my inbox to respond to new emails and to find work that I want to do.
About a year ago I found a tool called Boomerang. It helped me cut out quite a bit of wasted time scanning my inbox. Here’s how:
- If I don’t intend to do something now, I can have the email sent back after a period of time. So if I can’t get to the email this week, I’ll boomerang it in one week. The timeframes are reasonable by default and fully customizable. Here’s the list of choices:
- When sending an email I can ask for the email to return to my inbox if I don’t hear back within a timeframe.
- There’s a new pause feature that pauses my inbox and only delivers mail at specified times, this alleviates wasted time checking emails all day long. You can add exclusions. This is also helpful to avoid distractions when I need to search for an old email and I end up answering emails instead.
- There’s a mobile app on iOS that’s stellar to quickly sift through my inbox and either archive an email or boomerang it.
- I can send an email later, for example a reminder to myself or a deferred email to a confrere. Say when someone is on vacation, I can have the email arrive when they get back.
- I can setup recurring emails (serve as recurring reminders)
- I can boomerang at a random time which is nice if I don’t want to control when I deal with an email, but I do want to specify the interval, so random within a week, month, etc.
I’ve found great value in this tool, if you have a similar workflow with similar frustrations, give it a try. They offer a free plan with a limited number of boomerangs per month. If you like it and want to sign up, you can use this link to get a free month on your paid plan. I’ll get a free month too. http://www.boomeranggmail.com/referral_download.html?ref=2b4fd
One beef I’ve had with the tool is that you can’t easily use it with multiple email addresses. For example, I have a personal and work email. When I reached out to customer support they added a second email behind the scenes for me.