Do you struggle with making your inbox an asset for your business, instead a liability? Have you given up on ever seeing “inbox zero”? Is your inbox just an in/out tray without serving a bigger purpose?
You’re not alone. I know many writers, bloggers and freelancers who have thousands of unread emails in their inboxes. And it’s not just unread emails that are the problem. It’s tracking client follow-ups if you didn’t get a response or having too many subscriptions that you have to sift through daily.
However, there are so many ways you can power-up your inbox. And since most of us use Gmail, I’m going to list down a few awesome Gmail extensions that I have started using to turn my inbox into a productivity powerhouse.
5 Useful Gmail Addons for Freelancers & work from home people
This is by far my favorite, and also most recent, addition to my Gmail inbox. Streak is a CRM – customer relationship management – tool. It has too many features to effectively outline, but here are the main things I love about it.
- Add emails to boxes (each client or project can be a box) so you can see all communication with one client in a go.
- Set emails to return to inbox if you don’t get a reply. I’ve even gotten a few jobs just because I followed up when I didn’t hear back.
- Track the stage a project is in (closed, won, negotiations) and the value of the entire project.
- Assign tasks and reminders to each box.
There are a lot more features, and while I use the free version (and it’s more than enough for my needs) you can also sign up for a paid account (starting at $19/month) to upgrade your experience.
If you’re installing one external Gmail extension, let this be it!
Boomerang has been around a while, and when it launched it was a one of a kind tool. A boomerang is a Frisbee like toy, which when thrown in the air, returns to you itself. Now that’s cool!
So the idea of Boomerang, the app, is similar. You can set emails to return to your inbox in a few days.
This is perfect for when you have to do a task, let’s say call someone or view travel plans. You setup the email to return to your inbox on that day, which allows you to remove the email from your inbox for the time being.
Since then, they’ve added more features. You can write an email and schedule when you want to send it. This is perfect for making sure your email hits the receiver’s inbox when they’re in office. You can also return email to your inbox if you don’t get a response.
I’m still on the free version, which has a limit of 10 emails a month (because I use Streak, which has similar functionality), but the paid accounts start as low as $5/month.
As a freelancer, I often have to email people I’ve never met, and sometimes the only thing I know about them is their email address. When applying for freelance gigs, it’s a little nerve-wracking, as I don’t like using the same template for every job I apply to, but I can’t exactly guess someone’s name or job-based on their email address.
Before Rapportive, I’d quickly Google the email to see if something popped up, but Googling a potential client always took up too much time or didn’t result in any useful results.
Rapportive provides you with your contact’s LinkedIn information right in your inbox so that you can customize emails. It’s a lifesaver, as I now know which industry the client is in, what experience they have, and even what they look like. You can even find shared connections without leaving your inbox!
Tired of too many subscriptions? You’re not alone. Almost every website now has a “sign-up for our mailing list” box, and hoarder that I am, I can’t help but sign up for each one. Of course I don’t have time to read all of them, so I’d end up leaving the newsletters in my inbox, hoping one day I’ll get to them and pretty soon there were dozens of unread emails to go through.
Unroll.me goes through your inbox and makes a list of all your subscriptions. From here you can either unsubscribe or add the subscription to your daily Rollup. Your Rollup, which has all your subscriptions in one email, is sent to you every day at a time of your choosing.
This is a timesaver. You still get all the subscriptions you love, but since they’re in one email and sent at a convenient time for you, it’s easy to get through them on the same day. Secondly, I love how easy it is to unsubscribe from random email lists I didn’t even remember signing up for!
Everyone has a favorite to-do list app. I’ve gone through a few myself in the last year or so, and while some of them have come close to being “perfect”, none has gotten as close as Todoist.
Now Todoist is technically also a web-app, which you can access without Gmail, but the Gmail extension let’s you maximize its utility.
From within your inbox, you can turn emails into tasks with just one click, add them to an ongoing project, set deadlines or even assign them to someone else to handle. Of course, since Todoist is available on a total of 13 platforms – which includes every device possible – you’re never far away from your to-do list.
While I’m still using the free version, an annual subscription is just $29/year.
I could go on about more Gmail extensions that are awesome and helped me get my inbox under control, but too many extensions can end up being distracting. These five extensions, however, are my go-to, and used in each of my Gmail inboxes.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I’d also suggest taking a look into Google Inbox. Since it’s not an extension, I’m not including it in this list. However, I’ve seen people who have thousands (yes, thousands) of unread emails in their inbox get down to inbox zero because it bundles emails based on type, allowing you to filter out noise very quickly. If you’re in desperate need to control your inbox, I’d suggest starting with Inbox to help with email triage.
Which extension would you recommend I try out next? I’d love to hear back your thoughts in the comments as I’m sure there are many I either haven’t heard of or haven’t given a fair shot to!