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Apr

03

2015

Why I'm Abandoning Inbox Zero (Software Review of SaneBox)

Productivity email

There is a reason that email management training is always in demand. Email is and continues to be one of the most hated "necessary evils" of our time.

Everyone complains about email. We get too much of it. People don't use it properly. We get spam. It interrupts our day. It just keeps piling up. And on and on.

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Luckily, there are solutions. One such solution is the popular "Inbox Zero" methodology introduced by Merlin Mann. We've presented Inbox Zero a number of times at SpinWeb, as well and most people absolutely fall in love with it. Inbox Zero helps you stay organized, helps you know what to do with every message and keep your inbox from looking like a 100-year-old landfill.

I've used Inbox Zero for many years and I truly love it. It's a great system and I still recommend it today. However, I have finally found a tool that truly takes email management to the next level for me. It's a beautiful app that automates much of the stuff I was doing with Inbox Zero, it helps me focus better on what's important and it lowers my stress level.

This tool is called SaneBox.

What Is SaneBox?

SaneBox is a third-party email service that "plugs in" to your existing email and provides smart automation to your daily email flow. It works with Google, Exchange and other major email servers and sits in the background doing its thing.

Its most basic feature is that it takes all your incoming email and decides what is important and what is not so that it can send important stuff to your inbox while sending unimportant stuff to your @SaneLater folder.

Now it may seem scary to hand over your inbox to an algorithm to decide what's important and what's not. However, my experience has been that SaneBox seems to be 99.999% accurate at making good decisions. I've only had to train it on a few messages.

This by itself is pretty cool but oh, there's more.

Automatic Reminders

One of the folders in the Inbox Zero system is called, "Waiting For." This folder is designed to hold stuff that you need to keep and eye on because you're waiting for someone else to reply. It would involve checking the folder every few days and following up on stuff that you had not gotten a reply on.

With SaneBox, all you need to do is BCC something like "3days@sanebox.com" and SaneBox will automatically remind you to follow up in that time frame if you have not received a reply yet.

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No more 'Waiting For" folder!

Email "Snoozing"

Another great feature of SaneBox is the snooze feature. If you want to defer an email until tomorrow or next week, you can quickly snooze it and it will pop back into you inbox later.

This solves the Inbox Zero trap in which you would defer a message to your "Action Required" folder only to forget about it for three months. Snoozing keeps it on your radar but out of your immediate view so it doesn't distract you.

Take Control of Your (UN)Subscriptions

Ever notice how some email newsletters don't have an "unsubscribe" option at the bottom? Some companies just don't follow the rules and that's unfortunate. However, SaneBox gives you a "black hole" folder that you can use to "force-unsubscribe" from an email list even if the sender didn't offer an unsubscribe option.

Executive Assistant Access

Another great feature of SaneBox is the ability to let your assistant receive your SaneBox Digest, so he or she can process your unimportant email for you. While the system is really good at automatically figuring things out, it never hurts to add the human touch.

SaneBox Will Change Your Life

There is a lot more that SaneBox can do, but this should be enough to pique your interest.

So am I actually "abandoning" Inbox Zero? Not really. The same general methodology is there with SaneBox. The difference is that so much more of it is automated which saves time. Additionally, the additional features really make me more productive.

This is one of those tools that has really made a huge impact on my email productivity. At $7/month, it's well worth it.

So give SaneBox a try. For those who have used it, let me know what you think!

This post contains affiliate links.

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