So, how do you feel about email? It's a rough question to ponder on the first no-excuses work day of 2012. Email is like a treadmill. If we don't keep running, we're going to fall down. Maybe email would feel better if we started the new year off with some better practices for managing it.
ToutApp has built a free service called Year In Review that will help. It scans your Gmail/Google Apps account and gives you all kinds of feedback. Tout is upfront about privacy, and your report is just for you, unless you share it. ToutApp has the same goal for Year In Review as its users do: to get better at email.
"I think one of the keys to happiness is to stop counting down and actually be in the moment of living," says TK Kader, founder of ToutApp. The inbox count fixates us on the future. If we're going to get it down to zero before it fills back up, we have to be efficient. "The key," says Kader, "is to figure out all the stuff that's taking up your time." If you run Year In Review on your inbox, you'll be blown away how much time you spent in there.
The report starts with big numbers: "You dealt with XX,XXX emails in 2011." "You sent XX% less emails than you received." (Hey ToutApp. It's Jon. That should be "fewer," not "less.") "You sent the most emails in June." "Wednesday is your busiest day." That's all good to know. It helps you get into the rhythm.
Then it moves on to the social side of email, showing your closest and most frequent contacts, as well as popular words from subject lines, giving a sense of what you emailed about.
Finally, the report gets into the trends. It shows messages sent and received by month, week, day and even hour. This breakdown is amazingly helpful. For me, the trends were so clear, I can now plan my day better based around email rush hours.
The last section, a nice touch, shows you which email marketers and notifications you dealt with most. Lord knows we all get plenty of that. How about this for a new year's resolution: Unsubscribe from 95% of the things in this list?
Check out the sample report if you want to see exactly what you're getting before you sign up. The Year In Review report is only for Google email accounts for now, but ToutApp will support other email systems "very soon." You can join the private beta if you want to be alerted when your email service is supported.
What strategies do you use to manage your email?