How many hours do we spend in front of the computer every day? Not only does it negatively affect our health and fitness, but we often don’t have much to show for it. A lot of the time is spent on work, sure, but it is very easy to get sidetracked and procrastinate. Before you know it it’s been two hours and you have yet to respond to several important emails and finish up a project that’s uncomfortably near its deadline.
The sad thing is that a lot of people actually put in the work, but still fail to keep up with all their tasks because their email accounts are in a perpetual state of chaos. In this era of compromised online security and tons of spam mail and viruses going around, the need for secure and well-managed email accounts is greater than ever. For this purpose, I have compiled a list of the best Gmail plugins for boosting your productivity and cutting down the time you spend managing your email accounts.
For both private and business purposes knowing if people are actually reading your mails or not can be very important. You don’t want to waste time waiting on a reply that will never come, and this is where Bananatag really comes in handy. You can pick specific emails that you want to track and get information on whether or not people are opening them and clicking on the links inside. You get notifications in your email when these actions are taken, so you can have a good insight into what different contacts do with your emails, gauge which ones are the most receptive and then target your efforts and build strong connections. You get professional functionality, with detailed metrics presented in graphs, in an easy to use and completely free package.
Most of us are aware of just how much our information is vulnerable online. Someone gaining access to our personal information can wreak all sorts of havoc, used it to stalk us or just keep tabs on us. If you have an issue with outsiders getting hold of your personal information – be it rival companies, the government or hackers up to no good – then SecureGmail is an excellent little tool for you. You can quickly install it and use it to send encrypted emails. Even Google servers will only see the encrypted version of the text. Only the person who the email was intended for can decrypt the message using a password that you have agreed on. Of course you should make it a complex password and share it with the recipient through means other than email.
At first, GmailSnooze might seem like a weird concept – after all you can just delete emails or leave them and read them later. However, when you think about it, how many times have you read an email, made a mental note to respond to it later and gotten side-tracked by a ton of different emails and projects? With the snooze feature installed you can temporarily remove a certain email from your inbox, while you deal with more pressing matters, and have it show up as the latest message in your inbox after a day, week or any other time you specify. It can help you stay in touch with colleagues and business associates, and serves as a good reminder of important upcoming events.
Being more productive often comes down to quickly and efficiently searching your inbox for important emails and back-and-forth conversation that hide important bits of information. You know they are there somewhere – you just need to get to them. CloudMagic provides a fast and effective email search as you type function that allows you to preview email conversation, prioritize the most important ones and even receive follow-up reminders. It is unobtrusive, nestled in the upper right corner of the page, and keeps your search results open as you click through your inbox or compose new messages, allowing you crosscheck and share information more efficiently. You can even search information from a number of different accounts.
Sending a truckload of emails every single day means that sometimes you forget about a business proposal you sent or an important question you’ve asked someone. The mail is sent, there still no reply and it’s easy to completely forget about it. You may even forget to send a reply yourself now and then. With Boomerang you can prepare emails and schedule them to be sent at a specified date in the future, as well as get reminders if there was no reply to one of your emails after a specified amount of time.
To add to the functionality of plugins like Snooze or Boomerang, FollowUp CC lets you create polite little follow up emails to be sent to those who haven’t given you a reply. You can have these emails sent after a certain amount of time or at a specific date, e.g. after one week if it’s not a pressing matter or on the day before a deadline is due. You can get fairly specific by adding the exact time. There is also a bookmark reminder option that reminds you of a specific web page after a certain amount of time. The basic version with 25 reminders per month is free, but there are several other plans available for serious users.
If you are looking to create stronger connections with the people you are emailing, Rapportive will be an important tool for you. Once you set it up it shows up as a sidebar in Gmail and allows you to access basic information about the person. You can see a small image of them with some of their personal details, like current job and the city they live in. It also allows you to connect with them through social media by showing you links to their accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn along with their profile pictures. This way you can quickly get acquainted with a new client or associate or start networking and even building online friendships.
For all those who are looking to get organized and break everything down into clear tasks Taskforce is just the right tool. It allows you to designate specific tasks and keep all the necessary information in one place, all within Gmail and for free. This means no more searching through emails, opening multiple tabs and copying bits and pieces of information from several different apps and programs. You can add different people to a list of collaborators for each task, and that way everyone stays updated on the progress and any changes. You can add people who don’t have Taskforce and have them receive regular email updates.
During the course of the day you’ll end up clicking on God knows what, and there will be plenty of requests to subscribe to a newsletter. These messages can make an unholy mess in your inbox and obscure the few updates you really want to check out. Unroll.me is an extremely quick and easy way to manage these subscriptions and cut loose from the ones you have no need for. It scans your inbox and provides you with a simple visual interface where you can click to block all messages from any specific website on a list of your current subscriptions.
A similar, but a bit more in-depth way of dealing with your newsletter and promotional clutter, The Swizzle lets you unsubscribe from the things you don’t need and organize a custom daily digest form the ones you decide to keep. This way you can get one big email with the different promotions and updates that you want, leaving your inbox clean and organized.
For those looking for a good way to manage multiple email accounts, Checker Plus is a true godsend. It allows you to label and monitor important emails, get notifications with user photos and can even be set up to read your emails out loud to you if you are busy. You can run it independent of your browser and get new email alerts even if it is closed. There are a number of additional useful features and the developer offers excellent customer support and regular updates.
Another quick solution for busy people who want to become more organized, the ActiveInbox transforms your inbox into a functional task manager within seconds. You can choose which accounts to use it on – e.g. use it for your official business account and not on your private one – and get started in moments. Emails can be assigned to a specific project with ease and you also get a menu with the labels “action”, “waiting on” and “some day” that you can assign to various projects to prioritize them. If you opt for the paid version you’ll also get the ability to write notes, categorize tasks and set deadlines.
Giving a bit of a personal touch to your emails in the form of a signature that appears with each email is something that can serve you well for both business and personal purposes. WiseStamp gives you that little bit extra in terms of designing your own unique signature, complete with an image, basic information and links to social media, as well as cool additional features like your last Tweet or Facebook status. It makes things elegant and unobtrusive, while at the same time providing all the most important information on who you are as a person or professional with every email you send.
There is a lot of Gmail users out there, me being one, that aren’t aware of all the great little keyboard shortcuts that can help you cut down the time spend managing your emails by a small, but noticeable amount. Key Rocket strives to fix this by bombarding you with little pop ups every time you click on an option that you could have just used a shortcut for. Each pop up message contains a specific shortcut and after a while, through the sheer power of annoying the hell out of you, it will help you learn them all by heart, thus making you a little bit faster and more efficient.
Whether it’s the end of a busy day and you’re just hovering over the last email that you need to send before heading home or you tend to wonder off mid-sentence when composing emails all too often, a tool like the Mail Timer can help you stay focused. You choose how much time you want to spend with each email and set the timer, which, when the time is up, lets you know that you need to move on. It is incredibly simple and yet incredibly effective.
If you are anything like me, chances are you are spending entirely too much time looking your inbox and composing new emails. By using some of these great Gmail plugins, most of which are free and can be set up quickly and easily, you will be able to significantly improve your productivity and save yourself a lot of time and work.
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