Your email deluge is not in your imagination. According to a recent study, the average worker spends 28 percent of the workweek managing email. It's a lot like leveling up a video game, where each time you fend off an assault, another wave is on you before you've had a chance to catch your breath.
But you can get the edge on your inbox. The following services take the reins of email management, highlighting, sorting, and deleting messages so you can process the daily onslaught quickly and get back to your actual full-time job. Best of all, they all take only minutes to set up, and in most cases you'll see your inbox slimming down within a week.
SaneBox is like automated triage for your email. It stands sentry at your inbox and prioritizes messages as they arrive. Those deemed important remain in your inbox, while all others are corralled into a SaneLater folder so you can deal with them at a more convenient time. SaneBox learns how to filter incoming email by monitoring which ones you open quickly and which you archive, trash, or, ignore. You can accelerate its learning curve along by moving messages in and out of the appropriate folders as well.
SaneBox also offers several optional features, such as a SaneTomorrow folder, which will hold messages until the next day; SaneNotSpam, which monitors your spam folder for messages that belong in your inbox; and SaneBlackHole, to which you can consign senders you never want to hear from again. There's even a couple of custom options: one that lets you defer email to a time frame you specify, and another that allows you to create your own filtering criteria.
After its initial scan of my inbox, SaneBox reduced my email overload by about a quarter--not bad for a few seconds' work. But the real benefit came after a week of using it, during which I "trained" it to prioritize messages better. Keep in mind, SaneBox works better the longer you use it, so give it time. I found it to be the best service for keeping my inbox in check.
Email sanity doesn't come cheap, however. The Snack plan gives you SaneLater, SaneArchive (which collects your oldest emails) and one additional feature of your choice for $7 per month. For $12 a month, the Lunch plan increases that to five additional features, and the Dinner plan will give you all nine of SaneBox's optional features for $36 per month. Signing up yearly or bi-yearly will get you a discount of 30 or 40 percent, respectively.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.