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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Learn about topics ranging from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
My name is Jess Stratton and welcome to this week's edition of Monday Productivity Pointers. If you are an iPhone or iPad user and you have a Gmail account, Yahoo account, or an iCloud email account, you're eligible to use a free app called Mailbox to help you get closer to that illusive Inbox zero. It does exist. I promise. I've seen it. I've even gotten there thanks to this app. This will probably be the most favorite Monday productivity pointers I've ever done because I really love this app this much and it's helped me probably more than any other app I will ever use.
What Mailbox allows you to do is quickly process email messages with a quick swipe, you can archive or delete messages. You can defer messages to disappear and then reappear at any particular time, and Mailbox gives you a fantastic range of options. This way, the email can be out of sight when you don't need to, or can't handle it, and can reappear when you're ready to do something with it. Mailbox calls this snoozing an email, like you do with an alarm clock. After using Mailbox for a few days, all of a sudden I got it.
Things clicked and I spent a quick half an hour processing all my mail and then it happened. I got the message from Mailbox that said, you're all done. It felt great. So, let me show you Mailbox in action today. You can see the app down on the dock. It's called Mailbox. And right now it has a 19 next to it. Now, that's not the number of email messages in there. That's the complete number of messages including threads. So they're really serious about trying to help you get down to Inbox zero. And sometimes if you just connect up with Gmail right away, you'll a very large number in there and it can be a discouraging but I'm going to show you how you can get through it really fast.
The neat thing about Mailbox, and I'm going to tap on it right to get into it, is that it works with multiple Google accounts. So, if you have a personal Gmail account and a Google Apps work account, you can see them both in there. So, here's what my Inbox looks like right now, and there's a few things I'm going to do. It works by swiping and swiping alone. So, up here, I've got this first Google calendar entry. The first thing that I want to show you is that a quick swipe to the right will archive the message and you can see it's being archived by the bright green bar in the check box.
Now, however, if I drag it a little slower, they call this a long slide, that green check turns to a red X and now I'm quickly deleting it. So, right away you can go through and quickly swipe and quickly long swipe and archive and delete. Here's my favorite thing that you can possibly do though. I'm going to come down here and tap this email. It's myself, but we'll just say for purposes that somebody else has asked me if I want to have coffee together tomorrow morning. Now, let's suppose I'm somewhere where I can't answer this right now, or I'm not sure if I'm available to have coffee, but I still want to get back to this person.
I'm going to defer this email. So, I'm going to do a quick swipe to the left this time. A quick swipe to the left brings up a whole range of snooze options and this to me makes Mailbox the most amazing mail program I've ever used. Just because of the great range of choices. So, I could snooze this particular email til later today because I know I'll be back in my office and will have a better idea of what my schedule's going to be. But you see I have all sorts of choices, like this evening or tomorrow, which will show up at 8 o'clock in the morning for me.
Also there's options like this weekend, so this is great if I'm have something in my email such as plane tickets or confirmation tickets for a play that I'm going to this weekend. I don't need to see it in my Inbox and it doesn't need to be there cluttering it up all week, when I'm not going to use it. But sure enough Saturday morning, the day of the big event, it'll pop right back in my Inbox for me to access it. It works the same way with the next week option. This is great if there's a work email that comes in and it has nothing to do with anything that's going on this week, but your main focus is going to be on it next week.
So, I can tap next week and sure enough Monday morning at eight o'clock in the morning, it'll pop right back in my Inbox. There's also other options like, in a month, someday, which is, I believe, two months down the road and you can change that. And I'll show you how to do that later or you can pick a date. So, for now, I'm going totap later today and it's gone. I can then go and do the same thing for any other ones. For example, here's a firmware update for my GoPro camera. I can't do this right now. I can't do it until I'm going to be home, working on my home computer.
So I'll do a quick swipe to the left and choose, This Evening. So, now I can go through and quickly file my emails. I know how to archive emails, delete them, defer them to a different time, and I can also move them to particular lists. For example, here's a confirmation number for a hotel room. I'm going to do a long swipe to the left. This brings up a list menu. For example, To Buy, To Read, or To Watch. These are the default ones that come with Mailbox, but I can create a new list.
I can call it confirmations. I'll tap done and it gets moved to my new list. Sometimes I like to create another one called Waiting For, which is great when you get confirmations and tracking numbers from UPS, or order confirmations. You can drag it into that Waiting For list and then get it out of your Inbox, but you won't forget that you're actually waiting for a package. Something else I can do is I can rearrange emails. For example, here's this $30 reward certificate. I don't want to forget that I have to process this. So, I'm going hold it down with my finger, and drag it all the way to the top because it takes priority.
Finally, the really cool thing that I can do with Mailbox is mass edit messages. If I scroll all the way to the bottom. I'm almost done and I want to archive everything. I don't want to delete it. I can use these two lines down in the bottom left and the bottom right and mass move messages all at once. For example, you see two horizontal lines on the bottom left hand side. There's a 14 in the middle cause that's how many emails messages I have left to go until I'm at Inbox zero. And there's two horizontal lines to the right of that.
Now whichever way I want to swipe, to the left or the right, I can grab those horizontal lines and tap and drag. If I tap the horizontal lines all the way to the right and drag it to the left, I can either move all of the messages to a list. I'm going to tap again to get back, or I can move all of the messages and defer them to a particular time. I'm going to tap again and this time, I'll drag the one on the left. I can do a quick swipe to archive them or a long swipe to delete them all.
In this case, I'm going to do a long swipe to delete them all. And it's telling me, do you really want to do this? So you can hit cancel and do a quick swipe. Now it's going to ask me if I really want to send all these conversations to the archive. Smart enough to know that you're going to be processing a lot of messages, so are you really sure? In this case I am, so I'll tap Archive, and all of a sudden, I've done it. I am at Inbox zero. The best part is, when I go back to my Gmail account online.
It's all filed like it is on my phone or tablet, and all the messages will pop back into the Inbox on the computer, like they should online also. Nowadays, I don't even file my messages that much online, I actually come here first on my iPad or iPhone and then go into the web version and start working. Mailbox isn't available for the desktop right now. It's just for the iPhone or iPad. Also Mailbox works best, when you take the time initially to clean up your Inbox, like we've just done. Now it may take you some time if you have thousands of messages, but trust me, it'll be worth it.
The whole point is that any email that you've deferred, will pop back into your Inbox when you need it to. So even if you're a visual person, and you need to see that email, you don't need to see it if you can't actually do anything with it at a moment. I'm going to show you one more thing. I'm going to tap the three horizontal lines at the top left hand side of the screen and here's where I can navigate through Mailbox. For example, if I want to find what I moved into those later snoozes, I can simply tap later. That way I can see them immediately if I need to.
I can also get into any emails that I've moved into particular lists. I can see what emails I've archived, put in the trash, and what emails I've sent. Finally, I can get into my settings from here and this is what I wanted to show you. This is how you add accounts. You can change your signature, but the really neat thing is, is that you can change your preferences for your snooze times and your lists. For example, if I tap Snoozes, here's where I can tell Mailbox what time I start my day.
So, when I say I want to snooze an email til tomorrow morning, that was the one with the coffee cup icon, it doesn't have to be 8:00 in the morning. You could change it to 6:00 or some other time that you want it. You can also customize every one, such as when you start your weekend, when you end it. What day your week starts on. What time the later today is going to be and even the Someday. For example,you can see that it defaults to two months. I'm going to tap done, and I'm going close out of Mailbox for now. To get the full Mailbox experience, think about swapping out the built-in mail app which is over here on the top left of my iPad for the Mailbox one.
So, you can just take that mail app and drag it out of the system tray and drag the Mailbox app in, like I've done. Also, so that you don't get twice the notifications, disable the regular mail app in the notifications area. If I tap Settings, and then Notification Center, scroll down and find the Mail app. Now this is the built-in one that comes with the iPad. I can see all my mail accounts, and if I tap iCloud, right now the alert style is set to Banners. I'm going to set that to None and I also don't want to see a badge icon.
I don't want to see it in the notification center or on the lock screen. Then I'm going to tap Mail again. I'll come back to the Notification Center and scroll down until you find your Mailbox app. Find the Mailbox app and then make sure the alert style is on. For example, you could set it to Banners. You could have the badge app icon visible. Make sure it's shown in the notifications center and on the lock screen. This way, you've swapped the two apps. Now, you're iPad and iPhone experience will be that of the Mailbox app instead of the mail.
You won't get twice the notifications and you'll still be able to use it just like the mail app. So go through, try Mailbox, get to Inbox zero and see how great it can really feel.
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