Emails, Emails, Everywhere!

Over the last few years, my friends and I have used craigslist for almost everything. One friend recently decorated a nursery for a new baby almost entirely with craigslist finds. Another friend regularly places ads for roommates on craigslist to rent the extra bedrooms in his house. Yet another friend supplements his income by selling collectibles on craigslist. More friends than I can count have done job-hunting on craigslist.

In my experience, you can tell an active user of craigslist from his or her inbox. You’ll find emails from a long list of senders. You’ll find conversations that extend over multiple emails, and messages which were skipped over and thus never received a reply.

While craigslist (like similar online classified services) does offer an option to create an account rather than manage all of your transactions via email, this only helps manage some of the email traffic related to creating an ad. Setting up an account helps you avoid the administrative emails from craigslist involved in posting an ad, but the replies to a posting still get sent to your email account.

I know a lot of people who have a specific email account they’ve designated just for posting and replying to ads, or they use “disposable” email accounts for specific ads, especially if they anticipate getting a lot of postings (“help wanted” ads, for example, receive a great number of replies!).

But creating extra accounts can be a hassle, and this still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have an organized and easy-to-access record of the emails you’ve sent and received. Maybe you’re contacting multiple sellers in order to purchase a particular item, and you want to find the best item available at the best price. Do you have a record-keeping system to track all the emails you’ve sent out, as well as the replies that come in?

I’ve seen the inbox of my friend who posts ads for roommates on craigslist, and it isn’t pretty. Because he lives in an area where rental housing is at a premium, he’s always inundated with replies when he posts an ad. Some people email him multiple times, even after he’s told them “no” and deleted their initial email. Other times, he finds someone who seems to be a perfect fit for the room, and he realizes later that the person sent a follow-up email that he somehow missed and didn’t reply to before the person found another rental.

My friend makes do by quickly replying to—and quickly deleting—messages to keep his inbox clutter to a minimum. In the process, he’s had missteps like losing someone’s phone number. He gets enough interest for his rentals that it’s not a big deal, but what he sees as a small hassle could be a serious problem to someone else.

Who hasn’t lost track of an important email and lost something else because of it? Personally speaking, I’ve lost several opportunities announced by email. I’ve also lost track of countless coupons and deals I’ve meant to print out and use: the emails from various retailers I patronize were buried in my inbox, and the deals had expired by the time I remembered them again.

We’re all looking for ways to be more efficient in our professional and personal lives, and many times the answer to finding greater efficiency isn’t in discovering completely new methods of doing things but rather in finding tools that help us streamline the methods of working and communicating we already use every day. Sending, receiving, and organizing our emails can account for a lot of our time each day—or these activities can account for just a little bit of time if we can find and use the tools we need.

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Where Are Attachments When You Need Them?

Email attachments are a necessary part of modern life. The more accustomed we’ve become to email, the more business is conducted via paperwork sent as email attachments.

A loan officer can email you the forms you need to fill out to refinance your house. Your child’s school can email you the details about an upcoming field trip. Every day, most of us receive a number of work-related email attachments.

Have you ever tried to search for an attachment, but you couldn’t remember the sender’s name, and/or you didn’t search for the right keywords to pull it up? Worse, have you ever had to ask your supervisor to resend an email because you didn’t realize it had an important attachment and you accidentally deleted it?

You can compensate for the inefficiencies of email systems in dealing with attachments by setting up filters and/or folders, especially if you know who will be sending attachments to you. Then again, sometimes the most critical attachments come from the most unexpected source. Also, you might receive single attachments from a number of individual people, so how to create a filter or a folder to account for these one-time occurrences?

When you use something every day, it can be easy to overlook all the little time-wasting aspects involved. We each develop our own fixes and workarounds.

Whether it’s the draft of a report for work, an outline for a group project at school, or a handful of photos from a family vacation, many of the emails in our inboxes include files we want to keep and access easily.

There must be a better way to manage attachments than spending our time on filtering, sorting, and using the trusty old search box.

Posted in General

My Email Client’s Organization Wastes My Time

I was chatting with an ex-colleague – who now owns a small consulting business and receives 10-15 emails a day from his clients/prospects- about the state of current email clients. His frustration with existing email services was pretty obvious. In his own words:

I have a pretty big complaint about my email that I’m going to have to rant about before I lose my mind. I use my email for business, and it seems like I always have to go back through tons of messages looking for a single piece of information. It could be a date, an estimate for a project or a phone number that I’m looking for, but it always takes entirely too long to find it.

Earlier today, I was in the middle of an ongoing conversation with a client of mine that had lasted for almost a week. I needed to come up with an estimate for work that she wanted done. Since my rates are different based on the needs of some of my clients, I don’t always quote the exact same rate for all of them. I knew that I had quoted her a rate earlier in the conversation, but I just couldn’t find it in my email client. It took me between 45 minutes and an hour to write a simple email just because I couldn’t find the information that I needed.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s a mess when you have to search for specific information buried somewhere inside emails. It’s really like finding a needle in a haystack. Small business owners waste a lot of time finding important information from email when they need it.

With the way that things are now, you basically have two options for how your messages are arranged. First off, you can have a list of all of your emails arranged by date and time, and with this setup you have to go back and check each individual email to find what you were looking for. Your other option is for all of your emails with a single person to appear in chronological order on the screen all at the same time.

In my ex-colleague’s words:

While this sounds like a good idea on paper, it actually turns out to be pretty terrible because it slows down my computer and takes forever for the messages to load.

What I really want is a note-taking feature that works as a part of my email client that I can open up and jot down the important things that I will need to know for later. These notes could be arranged in a way that they automatically pop up whenever you view a message from the contact that they are associated with. If I had this feature, then I would probably save at least a couple of hours each week since I wouldn’t have to dig through a bunch of old emails every single time I replied to a client.

With Mailbin he is going to save a lot more time than a couple of hours a week. He would’t need to take notes and search for a tiny piece of information inside tons of text.

Posted in General

The Next Generation of Email

The last significant innovation in email came 8 years ago with Gmail which introduced conversation threading, gigabyte storage, speed, and a powerful search. Other than that email hasn’t changed much since its invention. In fact, it hasn’t changed much in 40 years. On the other hand email usage has gone up to 145 billion emails a day which are delivered to 3.3 billion email accounts.

Recently, a number of email startups have been emerging with the aim to “improve email”. They are trying to solve the current email problems by making it easier to manage individual emails. But, these tools still require you to triage each email one at a time, resulting in cognitive overload.

The future of email is where there is no work about work. At Mailbin, our goal is to extend your cognitive bandwidth, so that you spend less time managing emails and have more time to do the things you would love to do.

We would like you to help us shape the future of the email by signing up for the beta and taking part in our survey.

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