Throughout the day, I check my email on several different devices: my iPhone, Mac and Windows 10 laptop. No matter the device, I am always looking for more efficient, stress-reducing ways to ways to handle email. Here are the top 10 apps, methodologies, and tweaks that have helped me to up my email game.
10. Microsoft Outlook
Platform: Windows, Mac
Outlook syncs with virtually any email service, downloading all of my email for offline access. It can even create a local backup. Outlook is great if I’m going to be offline for a while because I can compose replies and it will send them once I reconnect. Outlook isn’t without its flaws – it can be slow to load, its databases occasionally need to be repaired and it requires an extra application to sync with Gmail.
9. Check Email Only Twice a Day
This one can be hard to do, but is so relaxing when I commit to it. This is my strategy to stay productive when I have a large project to complete and allows me to split my day into several large uninterrupted chunks. Here is an example schedule: Work 8-10am, Check Email 10-10:30am, Work 10:30am-3pm, Check Email 3:30-4pm, Work 4-5pm.
8. Enable Gmail Shortcuts
Turning on this feature of Gmail allows me use use keyboard shortcuts to compose, send and navigate through my email. There are so many shortcuts available, but here are my favorites:
|⌘/Ctrl + Enter||Send|
|g → i||Return to inbox|
|/||Bring up search|
|r||Reply to an email|
|f||Forward an email|
|k||Navigate to newer email|
|j||Navigate to next email|
|n||Navigate to next email in a thread|
|p||Navigate to previous email in thread|
7. Inbox When Ready for Gmail
Price: 14 Day Trial, then $36/year after
I get easily stressed out when I’m composing a message and I see a little notification pop up that there’s a new email waiting for me. Inbox When Ready hides my inbox and any unread emails until I click “Shown Inbox”. It’s super simple, but very effective.
6. EasyMail for Gmail
Platform: Windows 10
Price: Free, $4.99 to remove ads
This is the fastest way that I’ve found to bring up Gmail or Google Calendar on Windows and the user interface is very clean looking. Easymail doesn’t support third party chrome extensions or viewing multiple emails at the same time.
5. Boomerang for Gmail
Platform: Chrome, FireFox, Edge, Opera
Pricing: Free for first 10 Messages/month, starts at $4.99/month
Boomerang is a suite of tools for Gmail that helps me be more responsive. I use it to schedule emails to be sent in the future when I’m up late and remind me if someone hasn’t replied to an email within a set period of time. Another cool feature is that you can add “read receipts” to be notified when someone opens your email.
4. Undo Send for Gmail
Platform: Gmail on any web browser
Have you ever sent an email and immediately realized that you misspelled something or forgot to include someone? That’s me, at least once a day. Now that I have Undo Send turned on, Gmail gives me a full 30 seconds to read my fully typed “sent” reply before it actually gets sent off. This definitely helps me communicate my point correctly, the first time.
Spark is a lightweight email client for Mac that is packed with features. Like Outlook, it supports just about any email provider, it handles custom signatures well, and it will download your email for offline use. Like Boomerang, Spark lets me schedule emails to be sent in the future and will remind me if someone hasn’t replied to my message. The built-in search is my favorite feature as it queries all of 6 of my email accounts with near-instant results.
2. Spark (Mobile)
This is by far my favorite email client. It’s got all of the same features of its desktop counterpart and more. The swipe gestures let me deal with email faster than any other email client. I swipe one direction to mark an email as read or swipe another way to delete it. Simple. Because its connected to all of my cloud accounts, I can save an attachment to DropBox or send a spreadsheet from Google Drive without ever leaving the app.
1. Turn Off Notifications
This is the most profound change I’ve made to the way I handle emails. In the past, I would race to reply to an email as soon as it hit my inbox. This lead to excess stress, replies with incomplete thoughts, and it completely distracted me from whatever I was working on. Now, I am intentional about when I open my email and make sure that I am mentally prepared to read it. I take my time when formulating a response and do research if required. Making this change has helped me keep calm throughout the day, focus on the task at hand, and deliver my best responses.
What techniques have you used to up your email game?
Let me know in the comments below.