It’s easy to get bogged down doing repetitive tasks, or checking your email when you should be doing other things. Or when you’re at work, a lot of your time can be taken up sending out form responses or chasing after replies to your emails. When you’re out of the office, you might find yourself checking your email on your phone, or wondering if you received that one email from your boss.
With the methods outlined below, you can automate responses, follow-up emails, receive notifications when your emails have been read, and notifications when you receive urgent emails. Rather than waste your time constantly checking your inbox for new messages, you can increase your email personal productivity by automating a large part of the process and access your email only when you really need to.
Automated Follow-Up With FollowUpThen
There’s always a few people who take a bit longer than they should getting back to you when you send out an email. For those people, FollowUpThen is the perfect solution that saves you time and effort. There is no signup required, but the first time you use their service, you will be asked to verify your email address.
After that, each time you send out an email that might need a gentle reminder, all if you have to do is add a FollowUpThen email address in the CC field.
The email address format depends on how long you want to wait before sending that second follow-up email. You can specify the length of time to wait using email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and so forth, or you can specify the exact date using email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Just be sure to use the following format when using an exact calendar date: YYYY-MM-DD@followupthen.com
If your recipient replies before the allotted time has passed, as long as they hit the Reply All button, a follow up email will not be sent. To avoid unnecessary follow-up emails, it might be wise to place a small note in your signature making sure that when replying, they hit Reply All.
If you prefer, you can also place the FollowUpThen email address in the BCC field, with the one obvious drawback, that if they do reply to the email before the followup is scheduled to go out, they will receive it anyway.
If you’re looking for a way to send automated responses, Gmail users should check out Mark’s post on how to create automated responses to emails using Gmail filters and canned responses.
Find Out If Emails You Send Have Been Opened
If you aren’t a fan of MS Outlook, but would still like to know if an email you sent has been opened, there are third party services you can use to receive a read receipt. The easiest free service available, WhoReadMe, allows you to send fully formatted emails and attachments directly from within their website.
Once you have sent the email, you can check on its status by returning to the WhoReadMe website and see the exact date and time the email was opened.
WhoReadMe’s only drawback is that, while you can send unlimited emails, you are limited to 20 read receipts per day, but that is a small price to pay for the ease of use of the site. If you don’t want to be limited to the number of receipts, give SpyPig a try, or if you want to know if someone has clicked a link in your email, give LinkBlip a try.
Get Urgent Emails Anywhere With AwayFind
AwayFind is one of the most elaborate third party email services out there, and is the perfect companion for the workaholic when they’re not in the office. Rather than waste your time checking for urgent emails on your phone when you’re out and about, AwayFind can alert you of any urgent emails in a variety of ways including sending you an SMS, a direct message on Twitter, a message on Google Talk, or even, surprisingly enough, by email.
Once you’ve signed up for an account, or just connected AwayFind directly to your Google Apps/Gmail account, you can add as many email addresses as you want and choose your notification settings.
The first step is to choose how you want to notified. Either way, you will receive a verification code to add that service. So for example, if you want to be notified by Twitter, you will receive a direct message with a verification code, provided that you are following the AwayFind Twitter account. If you want to receive notification by SMS, you will receive a message on your phone with a verification code.
You can also be notified using chat programs such as Google Talk, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and AIM. And lastly, you can choose to receive an automated phone call to your mobile, landline, or various VoIP services including Skype and Google Talk.
The next step will be to set up your filters. If you want to be sure not to miss any emails from your boss, you can create a filter that alerts you of all messages coming from specific email addresses.
You can also create filters based on who else the email is sent to, or on specific keywords in the subject and message.
When creating a new filter, you can choose from your various notification methods as to how you want to hear about this specific filter, and to limit the notifications to certain time frames on weekdays and weekends. You can also choose to send an auto response to emails that fit that criteria.
One of the best things about AwayFind is that it doesn’t just notify you of the email, but actually lets you know its content. You will be informed of the time and date it was sent, who it’s from, and of the message, even if you are notified by a phone call.
If you don’t want to leave anything at all to chance, you can also create a signature to go out on all emails with a link to a contact form for people to reach you if it’s urgent. While this does open you up to the possibility of receiving more notifications than you would prefer, chances are your filters will not cover each and every possibility of an urgent message. You can customize all of the text that will appear on the page, and choose how to be notified of any new messages sent to you through the contact form.
How do you keep up with your emails and stay productive at the same time? Let us know in the comments.