If you are anything like me, your email inbox tends to overflow this time of year. Retailers are sending you their seasonal offers, and spammers are doing the same. Your friends and family are sending you seasonal messages of merriment, your work projects are wrapping up, and you are busy preparing for business in the first quarter of next year. Your overflowing inbox probably has you feeling just a tad overwhelmed or perhaps as sour as the Grinch himself. That's no way to feel at this festive time of the year.
A 2012 study by McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp. found that more than a quarter of the average worker's day is spent on email. Let's take a moment to explore some ways to regain control of your inbox. Do this now to put the "Happy" back into "Happy Holidays."
Email Hacks for the Holidays (and beyond)
The Email Game allows Gmail and Google email users to have some fun. Using the Email Game, you race against the clock to deal with your unruly inbox. By replying, archiving, and deleting messages, you turn your animated indifferent face to a big smiling happy face. You can also share your inbox annihilation scores on Twitter and Facebook.
Boomerang brings scheduling emails and follow-ups to your Gmail or Outlook inboxes. I love, love, love this amazing tool. When I have a new potential client contact me for consulting work or to schedule a speaking engagement, I always use Boomerang when I reply. By doing this, I can make the email reappear in my inbox at a certain time and date if they have not replied yet. This helps keep me organized and prepared to follow up if I haven't heard back. Boomerang also allows you to send a message later at a certain time and date in the future.
Unroll.me works on just about every popular email service. After setting this up, you will be provided with a long (sometimes frighteningly long) list of the email newsletters you are subscribed to. You can simply unsubscribe from the emails you no longer want, this includes those countless Facebook and Twitter notification messages. This doesn't take long and will end up saving you time and help you manage your inbox.
Gmail users need to take advantage of the many helpful tools in the Labs section. Click Settings in your email and scroll across to Gmail Labs. Here are a couple of my favorites to help manage my inbox.
Canned Responses: If you find you're writing the same thing quite often, you can create a canned response. A quick click of the button, and your emails will be automatically composed with the pre-written message.
Undo Send: Admit it, you have hit the Send button and suddenly noticed an embarrassing typo. Enabling Undo Send gives you a few extra seconds to retract your message after you have sent it. This is a lifesaver, especially when you have sent a message using an incorrect name (which I may or may not have done - once, okay twice.)
There are also mobile applications to help you manage your inbox when you are out and about this holiday season. One of my favorites is Mailbox for iPhone/iPad/Gmail. This handy app allows you to make the message disappear and reappear at a later date and time. Considering rescheduling those work-related emails that appear while you're enjoying your holidays with your family.
Finally, I asked my Twitter followers, "What are you using to tame your inbox?" and their replies were priceless:
@davedelaney Anger, mostly?
— Suzanne Norman (@suzannenorman) December 3, 2013
@davedelaney Oh, I'm supposed to CHECK that?
— Susan Murphy (@suzemuse) December 3, 2013
How do you manage your inbox, especially as it begins to overflow during the holidays? Leave a comment with your best tip please.
Photo from Flickr by marcopolis.
The article, Take control of an overflowing email inbox, originally appeared in the Tennessean.
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