Aisha Blake

Chrome Extensions to Level Up Your Email

April 24, 2017

Have you ever gotten lost in your own inbox, responding to messages and categorizing threads and waiting to hear back from so and so? I used to spend way too much time slogging through email. I’d look up and realize I was about to be late to the next thing I had to do that day and hadn’t gotten much done at all. I’d notice the little number indicating unread emails go up and so, of course, I needed to stop whatever I was doing and resolve this new thing immediately.

Before jumping into the extensions, let’s agree on one thing: checking your emails in one or two batches a day will save you time and energy! If you have to close the email tab so it’s out of sight and mind, go for it. To get through those batches faster, here are a few Chrome extensions to level up your email game:

Boomerang

using Boomerang to delay sending an email

If you’re a night owl like me, you’ll understand the dilemma of wanting to send an email or an update once you’ve finished writing it… at 3:45 am. Do I save it as a draft and risk forgetting to send it until much later? Or do I send it now and let the person know I’ve been up until the wee hours? Will they then expect me to respond at all hours? Or will they just think I’m unprofessional?

I choose to maintain the facade of a relatively well-adjusted human being by using Boomerang to delay the sending of messages until a more reasonable hour. You can also use it to bring emails you haven’t received a response to within a certain amount of time back to the top of your inbox. It takes most of the work out of following up with people! Coupled with all this, Boomerang comes packaged with Respondable, which predicts the likelihood that your message will get a response back. Some of the criteria may surprise you!

You can probably get by with the free version, which includes 10 message credits per month (following a 30-day trial period during which you may Boomerang an unlimited number of messages). The personal version is only about $5/month.

Grammarly

Grammarly catches me using the wrong word

Stretching beyond Gmail, the Grammarly app can be used in many places across the web, like Facebook and WordPress. It’s also available as a desktop app, so you can use it offline. As the name suggests, it’s a grammar checker. Simple and clean, it behaves very much like the familiar spellcheck. In addition, though, Grammarly will identify issues related to structure and style. The free version has the basics covered, but you’ll have to pay to be alerted to what the app refers to as “advanced issues”.

Just Not Sorry

Just Not Sorry points out where my email could be more direct

This one might give you pause, depending on your perspective. The purpose of Just Not Sorry is to call attention to instances of qualifying words and phrases. Terms like “sorry” and “actually” are underlined and you can then choose to remove or change them. Sometimes, of course, this is unnecessary. If you’ve been rude and have good reason to apologize, you can ignore the underline. Nothing will show up in the email you send, just like with a spell checker.

Criticism of the plugin asserts that it is “keeping women trapped in a man’s world“, but I disagree. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being polite, but I believe that goal can be achieved without undermining the point you’re trying to make. Whenever I see something underlined, I simply give the section another moment of thought. If I can remove the offending bit and the sentence still makes sense, I’ll usually do so. I tend to ramble (as you may have noticed), so I enjoy having a tool that helps me communicate more directly.

Though it has often been described as being targeted at women, the app’s creator stresses that she is “trying not to make this a gender issue“. Whether or not you believe that to be true, I recommend trying it out for yourself. There’s no setup involved. Just install the plugin and go. I’ve found it extremely helpful and I hope you will as well!

I’m willing to bet you have some amazing tools and tricks that I haven’t even thought of yet. Spread the email love and share your best tip in the comments!

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