For the last 4 of years, I've had a secret weapon to help me deal with email: SaneBox. SaneBox is a service that is phenomenal at dealing with email overwhelm, and it works with just about any email service you can throw at it. Here is a video with a brief overview.
Why is SaneBox useful?
From my perspective, SaneBox automates the handling of a lot of your email, allowing you to "clear the decks" by providing a concise inbox with only those emails which are a priority for you. Your other emails are still there, they just get filed in other folders so you can deal with them when you want to. Here are some of the default folders I like best:
|@SaneLater||This folder contains items that are important to me, but not necessarily urgent. I deal with them when I choose to.|
|@SaneNews||This houses items that I've subscribed to and want to read during my "reading and research" blocks. They tend to be messages from mailing lists, blogs, and other items that are of intellectual or professional interest to me.|
|@SaneBulk||Things like email coupons, sale announcements, reward programs and so forth tend to end up here. I generally don't look at this unless I'm looking for something (like a coupon code for a particular store). I also create an email rule to purge this folder of anything older than 30 days.|
|@SaneNextWeek||By dropping emails in here, they go away until next week. Very handy.|
|@SaneArchive||Think of this as your "cold storage" folder - drop things in there and they will be searchable and retrievable, but still out of sight.|
|@SaneBlackHole||This is my favorite. When I don't want to hear from someone again (i.e. a persistent spammer, a phishing email, etc. I just move the message into this folder - I will not hear from that sender again. Currently, I have 4989 contacts in my "Black Hole" list. If you change your mind about someone (i.e. someone who was dead to you is now OK again), SaneBox makes it easy to find and un-blacklist them.|
I've also created specialized folders like @SaneReceipts, which is where all of my email receipts are kept.
My favorite SaneBox features
- The Daily Digest. This is not a feature I expected to use much, but it is indispensable. Every day, I get an email showing which emails have been sent to folders other than my inbox. The thing that makes it valuable is that I can "train" SaneBox very easily - without having to open an email at all! If I notice something show up in my @SaneLater box (the default folder for things SaneBox doesn't recognize), I simply use the Digest View to redefine where that message should go. Very easy.
- I've attached an image of a digest (click the thumbnail to enlarge), so you get a sense of what it looks like - this one shows things in my @SaneBulk folder.
- If I want to read an email "just this once" I click the "Inbox Once" button and it moves immediately (future emails will still go to the @SaneBulk folder).
- I use this to "cherry pick" messages from individual folders, click to move them to the inbox, then click "Delete All" to nuke the remaining items, which magically disappear from my email accounts.
- Maintain a focused inbox. By nature of the way it works, SaneBox has helped me keep a solid, focused inbox. I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 350-500 emails per day across all of my main accounts. SaneBox filters this down to roughly 20-25 emails in my main inbox every day. That is huge.
- Easy training from any device. I don't need a specific "app" to be able to use SaneBox. To train it about which messages go to which folders, you simply move the messages to the right place. The service notices what you've done, and that kind of message goes to its new destination from that point forward.
- Easily defer emails without losing track of them. I mentioned the @SaneNextWeek folder earlier - that is very useful. Even more useful is the ability to selectively defer emails and have them show up in your inbox when you want to. By simply bcc'ing an address that SaneBox deciphers, you can tell it when you want to see the message again. Here are some examples:
- bcc: email@example.com and the email will show up in your inbox again Friday at 3pm.
- bcc: firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll see it again in 2 weeks
- You can either use these kinds of special aliases to defer an incoming email until you want to pay attention to it, or you can use it to remind you to follow up on emails you've sent. This is a fantastic feature.
Risk-free trial, and a special offer for you
There are a lot more features, these are just my favorites. I have SaneBox managing 4 different email accounts for me, and couldn't imagine going back to the old way of doing things.
If you're interested in trying it out, go to www.sanebox.com/curiosity for a special offer to Genuine Curiosity readers! Sign up for a free trial and you'll get a $15 credit towards a SaneBox subscription if you decide to keep using the service.
Note that I also get some free time on my subscription if you sign up. As I mentioned earlier, I've been using SaneBox for years, so when they approached me about reviewing their service and setting up this offer code for you, it was an easy "yes."
If you try it out, I would love to hear about your experiences with SaneBox.