I briefly got to inbox zero over the labor day holiday and have been managing to keep things more or less under control since. There are two services that I've started using that have made a big difference for me recently.
Unsubscribe.com – from the man who brought us phonetag (one of my all time favorite services) comes unsubscribe.com. This is as low tech as you can get. The service unsubscribes you from mailing lists, automatically if they can, manually if they have to. You get five unsubscribes per month for free and for $19 you can upgrade to unlimited unsubscribes (not per month, forever). I didn't even bother with the free offer. I paid $19 the minute I saw this service and to date I have unsubscribed to roughly 125 mailing lists with the click of a button.
You download their extension for outlook and gmail and just hit the unsubscribe button. That's it. One click unscubscribe. Extensions for Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL are coming soon. Check it out. For someone like me who maintains many active email addresses, some of which have been active on the Internet for almost 20 years, this is an unbelievable service. And the thing I like most about it is that it doesn't filter the email away or send it to spam. It stops the mail from being sent. It works the way email is supposed to work.
Priority Inbox – from Google comes a new feature in Gmail, one that I have been blogging about and asking for for many years. Most of you probably saw this come out a few weeks ago so this is not news to you. However, Priority Inbox has made a big difference for me. It was pretty bad right out of the box, but I decided to stay quiet for a few weeks and see what happened. I have trained Priority Inbox by clicking the yellow + sign or the blank minus sign on hundreds of mail messages. I have a lot more training to do, but after a couple weeks, it works pretty well for me.
One of the terrible things about getting hundreds of emails per day in one inbox is the fear that you'll miss something important. And I do, all the time. Priority Inbox tries to solve that problem by creating a set of emails that I must get through every day. The rest can wait until the weekend when I generally try to clean out my inbox (and fail most of the time).
The other thing I like about Priority Inbox is the section for starred emails. This simple UI decision forced me to start starring important emails, something many of you have been suggesting to me in various "email hell" posts over the years. It is neat when a feature can change behavior towards best practices. Priority Inbox did that for me.
So these two new services have made my email life a lot better. One from a scrappy entrepreneur who has always focused on solving the problem instead of building technology for technology's sake. And one from one of the biggest tech companies in the world who always chooses technology over people to solve tricky problems. But interestingly, it took a person (me) to get Priority Inbox's technology working right.
If you are using Gmail, I highly recommend using both of these tools. They've made a big impact on my email experience in a short period of time. And I think they can do the same for you.