One of the most powerful things about the digital age: You can do almost all of your work via email. And, on the flipside, you can spend your entire day (and night, and weekend) trying to manage all of that email communication. Enough already! 

A few months back, I decided that I no longer wanted to my inbox to run my days or make me feel stressed out. I started looking into apps and plugins that would help me manage the flow of communication, and surface the messages that were actually important to me. Everything else could wait--or get ignored entirely. 

By tapping some excellent tech (see below), and changing my mindset, I've successfully downgraded email's importance in my workday. Now I start the day with my own to-do list (Todoist for personal and Basecamp for my work at Masthead Media) and push off email til I decide I'm ready.


With you can get real-time email tracking (including who opens your emails and clicks on your links), schedule automated follow-ups, snooze emails you send or receive to get them bumped to the top at a later date, schedule meetings with a single message, and find email addresses for new contacts. Plus, the extension can also integrate with Salesforce, Pipedrive, Auto BCC, and Zapier.

2. Inbox When Ready

We've all been there: You open your email to check on one thing, see 20 new messages, and get completely sidetracked reading and responding to them. Inbox When Ready helps you sidestep that issue completely by hiding everything in your inbox until you click to show it.

3. Sortd

Sortd takes the beauty of project management apps like Trello and brings it right into your Gmail interface. The add-on allows you to create several lists (whether it's simple ones like "to-do" and "follow-up" or a full-blown workflow) from your emails; and see them all in one view. Edit as you go, drag and drop to re-order, and respond to emails right from the list.

4. Contacts+

Cut down on the time you spend researching the people you're emailing with Contacts+, an extension that gives you the most necessary info (including links to social media profiles) in a contact card within your Gmail interface. As you go, you can add in personal notes and tags for context.

5. Key Rocket

Chances are, there are more keyboard shortcuts than you or I will ever discover on our own -- which is where KeyRocket comes in. This handy tool notifies you when you could have used a shortcut on an action you just took, so you learn -- and become more efficient -- as you go.

6. Actions for Gmail

When it comes to increasing your efficiency, every click counts. Actions for Gmail helps you cut down by adding buttons to "archive," "delete," "mark as read/unread," and "mark as spam" right inline with each email so you don't need to click multiple times to take each action.

7. Simple Gmail Notes

Your inbox is busy enough as is; so sometimes it's nice to keep the add-ons simple. Enter: the aptly named Simple Gmail Notes, an extension that allows you to add quick and easy sticky notes to email threads and your calendar, and store them all in your own Google Drive.

Correction: An earlier version of this post recommended The Email Game, a service that had ceased operating in February. It also listed the incorrect name for Contacts+.