Tools for tiny businesses: I heart you, Boomerang
The email tool for “inbox Zero” at the end of my day. No, really, it works.
In his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport talks about his end-of-day “shutdown ritual,” and the importance he puts on clearing his mind of lingering distractions from projects-in-progress and from unanswered or unread email. His advice is that we do everything we can to “…ensure . . . every incomplete task, goal, or project has been reviewed and that for each you have confirmed that either (1) you have a plan you trust for its completion, or (2) it’s captured in a place where it will be revisited when the time is right.” For me, part of that is the holy grail of “inbox Zero.”
Are you overwhelmed with email sometimes? I know I am, regardless of my attempts to stay off junkmail lists and direct my subscriptions to a separate email address just for them. That just means I’m inundated with email that I actually WANT to read, which is arguably even harder to cope with. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without Boomerang.
Boomerang lets you schedule the redelivery of emails back to you, schedule outbound emails, set reminders for yourself to respond to an email or look for a reply, attach notes to yourself to an email, pause your inbox for a while, and a lot more.
This is what is looks like in action: I open my inbox in the morning to my bazillion emails, am immediately overwhelmed, and go back to bed. No, not really. I just check the checkbox next to the ones that don’t need an immediate response (notifications, for example) then click “Boomerang” and choose whether I want them to be redelivered to me in an hour, or four hours, or four weeks.
That brings up a pane of possibilities for times (and conditions) to return the email to your inbox…
…and they are out of my hard-working brain until I need to address them. You can even write yourself a note or a reminder about some aspect of the email:
On the sending side of things, Boomerang lets you schedule outbound emails, so if you need to write someone first thing tomorrow morning and are worried you’ll forget, you can simply schedule it. Note the groovy new red SEND LATER button for setting a time and date you want the email to go out:
….as well as the ability to ‘boomerang’ the email back to the top of your inbox if a particularly important email doesn’t receive a reply:
There is also a “Pause Inbox” feature that lets you stop emails from arriving in your inbox for a set period of time so you can focus better, and a new feature called Respondable that helps you write better emails—emails that are more likely to get a good response—by scoring the language you use on factors like positivity, politeness, and more.
For years I thought that whole “inbox Zero” aspiration would always be out of my reach. But by managing the function of my poor tormented email inbox, I’m looking at a clean slate almost every night, and am able to enjoy the brain-mending rest of turning off my computer/mobile and taking some joyful downtime. This is the most indispensable $5 I spend all month.
Anyway, I’ve gushed enough. If you think might help you focus and get more mental rest too, you can learn more and get your own Boomerang here: http://www.boomerangapp.com/
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