Productivity hacks: Sanebox

I’ve written before about email and how in the grand scheme of things it’s not so bad. But a few months ago I noticed it was getting on top of me a bit and stopping me from being quite so proactive so I did what every productivity geek does and shopped around for something to solve the problem. I decided to give Sanebox a go again — I tried it once a few years back but for some reason never stuck with it.

This time it’s definitely helped. I can’t quite explain why but there’s something about the way it works that lessens the amount of time I worry about email. You give it api access to your mailboxes and then let it work its magic. Messages it deems non-urgent get put into a folder called @Sanelater rather than appearing in your inbox leaving you with just the important stuff. It then sends you a daily email with the unimportant stuff that you can have a quick look through — training anything it’s got wrong and reading anything that’s just ‘fyi’.

They also have an excellent list of 100 email hacks. To be honest I don’t mind paying $99 a year for the service (for 2 email accounts) — if you sign up here you’ll get $5 off (yay!). I’m sure it’s not for everyone but well worth a try if you’re drowning.

Productivity killing emails

Most of my workflow is done through email. I’m a big believer in Inbox Zero and generally I think I’m pretty good at replying to people in a timely and hopefully helpful way.

But over the years I’ve noticed that there are certain emails I receive that completely knock me off balance. They start a cycle that means my inbox starts filling up again and I’ve been trying to work out what it is about them so that I can avoid sending similar emails myself and work out how to get myself back on track more quickly.

They basically have two characteristics:

  • They contain multiple asks that require multiple pieces of research — hence they’re difficult to add to a task list
  • They include things that really should be talked about face-to-face or at least on the phone

The steps to get over them are:

  • Recognise the email and realise I need to deal with it
  • Pick up the phone and sort out the bit that needs to be talked through
  • Set aside a time to deal with the multiple asks and put it in my calendar so it gets done

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But they do still hit me for six every now and then.

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