Imagine you’re composing an email and you have to explain to someone what website to go to, what to click on, and what to look at before they can give you feedback. You also have to attach a file – but wait – the you get an error saying that the attachment exceeds the file size limit.
Email takes up a lot of time and, to make it worse, there are a bunch of inefficiencies like the scenario above.
I’ve tried out dozens of email tools to save time but many of them took too much time to learn to be helpful. And while some were helpful, I didn’t use them that often.
But now I can say I’ve found my perfect toolkit (at least for now) that can make you more efficient in email. These tools help me send emails and documents quickly and even let me know exactly when to follow up on an email.
Here are 10 tools that will boost your email productivity.
I’m subscribed to dozens of newsletters, but I’m not always in the mood to read 17+ articles in one sitting. So I use Pocket to save articles directly from my email.
Take this email from First Round Review for instance. I’m interested in learning more, but I expect it to be a long article. I might be on the bus or taking a quick break from work and don’t have the time or mental energy to read and comprehend a full-length article so I’ll save it to my Pocket.
Now I can enjoy the article in my Pocket dashboard during the weekend.
I do this with almost all the newsletters I receive so I can empty out my inbox. This way important emails don’t get buried among the newsletters.
Which reminds me that I need to review what I’m subscribed to and use …
Have you gotten emails that
- You don’t remember subscribing to or
- You don’t find interesting?
Me too. Plenty of them. So you have to scroll to the bottom of each email and click “Unsubscribe.”
Unroll.me gives you a birds-eye view of everything you’re subscribed to and gives you the option to easily unsubscribe from all of them.
They also have a “Rollup” feature which puts batches all digests you would have received on a given day into one simple email. Instead of five email digests in one day, you’ll get one simple email. Inbox clutter problem fixed.
I’ve often had to annotate images to show friends or teammates what I’m talking about without having to type out all my thoughts. In this case, using Skitch, a picture can replace a couple paragraphs.
For instance, this image I sent a friend the other day asking for feedback on my about page:
This saved my friend time from clicking on a link to my webpage, waiting for his browser to start, and waiting to see the slide-out form. All he had to say was “yep” or “nah” (the answer was yep).
Sidekick has two features that I use frequently: email scheduling and contact profiles.
Take for instance, I’m emailing my good friend in San Francisco. We live 3000 miles away from each other so we don’t get to talk as often. As I compose an email to him, I can see his Twitter updates and find out what he’s been up to. Now I can mention in the email that I want to ask him about those things the next time we talk.
This is useful if you’re networking and building new relationships. The social information makes it easy to have a point of reference whenever you touch base with someone.
The second feature shown in the image above is email tracking.
Most of the time, you send an email, and you never get a response. You don’t even know if the other person opened your email. Using email tracking, you’ll get notifications when someone opens your email and clicks any links you’ve included.
This lets you know that you can and should follow up with them. Email tracking allows us to be more effective in our email communications and has helped people close huge business deals.
Email clients generally have a maximum file size limit for attachments. Sometimes you need to send a monster file that’s 27mb (if it’s a PDF, you can use SmallPDF to compress it).
In these cases, you can avoid that file size limit using Dropbox. Even better, if the other person has Dropbox, they can save it to their Dropbox instead of downloading the file.
If you use Google Chrome and Gmail, you can download the Dropbox for Gmail plugin so you can attach Dropbox files while in Gmail.
You see that GIF above? I made it using Recordit. You can also record video screencasts if you need to show someone how to do something.
If an image is worth a few paragraphs, a video is worth an essay.
If everyone used Grammarly, we’d have less grammar headaches. See the image below.
Grammarly catches small issues like the misuse of a commas and points out typos. We all make them – especially when we’re typing quickly to get through all our emails.
And it doesn’t hurt to learn a few new grammar rules.
If you could type an entire paragraph with two keystrokes, would you?
If you find yourself using the same phrases over and over in email, I’d recommend using Auto TextExpander, a Chrome extension, to cut down on those valuable keystrokes.
The best part is you can customize your shorthands and add as many as you’d like. I have shorthands for my full name, my email, various types of “thank you” phrases.
Gmail keyboard shortcuts have saved me hours over the course of a month. Instead of clicking around to archive or compose an email, it’s as simple as press “e” or “c” (respectively).
But Gmail keyboard shortcuts isn’t activated by default. You have to change some settings:
- Click the gear in the top-right corner of Gmail and select Settings.
- Under the “General” tab, find the “Keyboard shortcuts” section and select Keyboard shortcuts on.
- Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
- Go back to Settings, click on the “Labs” tab, find “Custom keyboard shortcuts” and click Enable.
- Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
While it isn’t alway easy to become more productive, these tools will quickly help you spend less time in email.
Which tool do you think will be most useful for you?