How I’m Using @Boomerang to Optimize my Email Workflow #Productivity #InboxZero

It must have been early 2013 when I was introduced to Mailbox. Those of you who were fellow fans of the app know that it was discontinued in 2016 to the heartbreak of many. Why was Mailbox so revolutionary for me? It opened up the option to snooze an email to the date and time I wanted/needed to deal with it. For the first time, with Mailbox, I started achieving InboxZero. And I loved it!

When Mailbox retired, I tried a variety of different options available. I started with Polymail, then Spark, then FollowUpThen, then Newton. But I kept finding myself composing & checking most of my emails directly in my Chrome browser and only moving to those apps to snooze messages. It was a clunky process, and I kept finding myself frustrated.

For years now, I’ve had the Boomerang extension added to my Gmail. I’ve used the free 10 message credits per month to schedule messages I wanted to “Send Later.” Even though it worked flawlessly for that and sat right inside Gmail, I always though Boomerang was too expensive to justify, especially since an iPhone app was not available (at the time). With the 10 message per month limit, I couldn’t even get through a full day if I used Boomerang to “snooze” messages I wanted to defer or follow-up on.

Moving to Boomerang

That was until I got more serious about fixing some of my email problems. When I started thinking about the time wasted and mounting frustrations using other apps, I decided to make an investment in my sanity. With a month-to-month subscription model, I figured I didn’t have too much to lose trying Boomerang out for a month. (Did you know Boomerang offers discounts to educators?)

How I Have Been Using Boomerang

First and foremost, I use Boomerang to “Boomerang” emails I receive on a daily basis so that they are removed from my inbox until the date and time I need to deal with that item.

Scenario 1: I need to consult with somebody else before replying — In this case, I will Boomerang the message to the time when I know I will be meeting with that person so that we can respond together. This is much more efficient than going back and forth through emails several times.

Scenario 2: Informational emails that I want to follow up on — I carve out a chunk of time twice a week to fully explore edtech related emails. Instead of just reading the message on my phone and scanning through for highlights, for emails that I am interested in, I Boomerang them to the time I know I will be researching at my computer. That way, I can fully explore the tool or new feature for myself and actively engage with what I am reading about. Since I am at my computer and since I have specifically carved out time for this task, I know that I will be able to take notes as appropriate and file the resource.

Scenario 3: I email one of the teachers I work with about a tool and they tell me it’s perfect for a future unit of study — In these situations, I will Boomerang the message so that I remember to follow-up when the teacher gets to that unit. By using Boomerang instead of scheduling the event in my calendar, I have all resources attached to that email to jog my memory. As well, with Boomerang, I can actually add a note-to-self that will return with the message at the specified date and time.

Scenario 4: Remembering to follow-up on emails where I’m waiting for a response — I can choose to Boomerang only if a person has not replied. This way, I don’t need to mentally keep track of messages that I’m waiting for a follow-up on. If the message has not been replied to by the date I specify, it will automatically return to my inbox.

Inbox Pause

You may have read about my email challenge last week. I decided that I was going to only check email at specified times. As a self-admitted email checking addict, Boomerang played a large role in making this an achievable goal for me.

After my week challenge was up, I turned off the auto-pause function to return to life as normal. And after 2 days, I went right back to hitting that auto-pause. Allowing myself email breaks had really with my efficiency and allowed me to be more present throughout the day. I didn’t even realize how big a problem I had until the challenge. I will probably adjust when and how often I use the Inbox Pause feature but see this as a new habit that I will stick to.

Send Later

Send Later is a Boomerang feature that I have been using for years now. I use it much like I use the schedule feature in WordPress to publish to my blog at a specific date/time. As technology coordinator, one weekly task I set for myself is to send out a tech tip email. I usually write this up in advance and use the Send Later feature to send my tips on a consistent schedule.

Something we have been talking about at my school recently is how late at night we are often emailing one another back and forth. We all have preferred times of working and emailing late at night might work well for some of us. The problem with sending emails late at night, though, is that it pushes that task to whoever you have just emailed. And if they are checking their email, they may think – well, my colleague is up late working, maybe I should be responding. The Send Later feature is a tool to help combat this problem – write the email now, send it now so it’s off your mind, but it won’t arrive in your colleague’s inbox until the date/time you specify. The other added bonus: you can edit any messages that are scheduled to be sent later, so long as you make that edit before it has been scheduled to send :)

Boomerang on the iPhone

Among the reasons for not choosing to pay for Boomerang sooner was that they did not have an iPhone App. I often like to organize my inbox when I am on my phone. Last week, though, Boomerang released their iOS App. Not only does it allow you to snooze messages and send later, but it also includes a nifty AI assistant that will give you an overview of your day. (The Boomerang App for Android has been available for a while now.)

Conclusion

I am really happy that I have made the choice to move to Boomerang to handle my email needs. It is reliable and simple for those who already use Gmail. Staying on top of emails is hugely important to me. I like to be responsive and to remember to follow-up on tasks as promised. Boomerang allows me to do this without having to download a separate app on my desktop. And I honestly couldn’t be happier with my first month using Boomerang Pro.

I am an InboxZero type of person. I think everyone has their own flow, and this is mine. I only like to have those emails that I am going to deal with immediately in my inbox. Everything else gets Boomeranged to the time I need to deal with it or it gets archived. There are a small set of emails that I hold in a “to reference” folder that I know I need to refer to on and off throughout the week. But for most things, I can add a calendar event and archive the email or Boomerang the message for the date/time I need to deal with it. And with that, I feel like I have a pretty organized way of staying on top of things. That’s my email flow, thanks to Boomerang!

If you’re new to Boomerang, feel free to use my referral code to try Boomerang Pro free for 30 days: boomeranggmail.com/referral_download.html?ref=gtmwz

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