6 Tools To Conquer Your Gmail Inbox

March 4, 2014

A funny thing happened in 2014.  Somewhere along the way, my inbox consistently stayed…empty.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

But since I’m all about “sharing is caring”, I’m going to share the 6 apps and the system that helped me achieve the elusive Inbox Zero.

This is how we do it (this is how we do it…sha-la-la-la-la-laaa-la-laaa)


First step in getting to Inbox Zero is to clear out the junk.  For me, I utilize the magic two clicks of “select all, archive all” in Gmail.  Just do it.  You know you want to…

Afraid you may be missing an important piece of mail?  Play The E-Mail Game, a Gmail plugin that turns your overflowing inbox into a speed drill to delete, archive, or respond to your hundreds of messages.  I never respond within the game – instead, I leave the messages in my inbox so I can respond to them without the time crunch.

Once it’s clean, keep it that way with Unroll.Me.  It is hands-down, the best tool to unsubscribe, keep the same, or roll up all those newsletters and sales alerts into one concise daily e-mail.  If you’re not signed up yet, sign up now.  And relish in the glory of a cleaner inbox.


I check my e-mail four times a day.  That’s it.  I don’t have the self-control to keep Gmail or Outlook open all day, given that I’d spend my entire day responding to e-mails.  I give myself a single Pomodoro (25 minutes) each time to respond, delete, or save every e-mail.  E-mails that require a more lengthy response get created into a Todoist task, and every message gets responded to in my evening e-mail response block.

I save a ton of time on responding to e-mails with the help of canned responses.  Meg wrote the best tutorial on setting it up, and I use my canned responses for sending the En Route With questionnaire, responding to sponsorship inquiries, and introductory e-mails.


Lots of time is wasted searching for  how you know the senders from e-mails.  Thankfully, there’s a tool for that.

To cure those “how do I know you?” Facebook/LinkedIn/Google stalking, install Rapporative in your Gmail IMMEDIATELY.  It syncs to your social networks, brings up prior e-mail exchanges, and has a text field for you to enter your own notes.  It also pulls up a picture of your sender from one of their social networks, putting that oh-so-helpful face to the note.

I’m supremely guilty of both not following up OR sending e-mails at crazy times, thanks to my travels.  Boomerang has been my savior for both issues – I can schedule a future date for my message to be “boomerang’ed” back to me, to ensure I’ve followed up.  I can also schedule e-mails to be spent at a business-appropriate time when I’m on the go or cranking out e-mails in an insomnia stupor.

Both of these tools have helped me immensely in intelligent e-mailing – both in knowing my sender and sending it at the right time.

That’s it!  My 6 top tools AND my system for managing my multiple Gmail accounts…and not go crazy.

I’d love to know – how do you manage your e-mail and keep it under control?  Any different tools or tips you’d recommend?  COMMENT below and let me know!

photography by Gabriel Gastelum, graphic design by Hitha Palepu for Hitha On The Go
  • http://manifestyourself.com/ Kimberly Whittaker

    I’ve just recently discovered Unroll me, Todoist, and canned responses. For my blog email, this has been a game changer. I’m still a tad overwhelmed with all of these new tools, but give me another few weeks and I’ll be a pro.

    • hithaonthego

      I should have mentioned that the trick is to introduce each one, one at a time. Rapporative is fairly unobtrusive and provides immediate value. It took me a good two days to create quality canned responses, and I use Todoist every day and update my subscriptions in Unroll.Me weekly. The E-Mail Game I play every night when I need to sort through the important e-mails from the junk.

  • http://www.26andnotcounting.com/ Jessica

    I’m mildly obsessive over checking my email. I just can’t help it. I’m going to (attempt) to put some of this to use!

    • hithaonthego

      Jessica – what’s helped me is installing StrictWorkflow in my browser, and blocking all my e-mail accounts in it. When I can’t access it, I can’t obsess over it. I recommend giving it a try!

      • http://www.26andnotcounting.com/ Jessica

        Awesome, thanks for the tip!

  • http://NorthOnHarper.com/ AlexisGrace

    Okay, so I am so excited to try out Unroll.me, that I am pretty sure you’ve single handily changed my life!

    ~Alexis Grace of North On Harper

    • hithaonthego

      I hope my tips and Unroll.Me live up to your bold statement! I’m just happy to help you get your e-mail under control ;)

  • http://theannabelleblog.com/ Anna Belle

    These are fantastic!! I am finally free from alumni announcements from my university. Plus the email game is really useful – my inbox is now clean!

    • hithaonthego

      Woohoo! Love hearing that, Anna Belle.

  • http://www.coralsandcognacs.com/ Hallie Wilson

    Thank you for whispering these sweet nothings. Srsly.

    • hithaonthego

      Happy to help. Even happier to see you for dinner this week!

  • Shannon Kitchell

    Hitha, that Unroll.me plugin is legit. Thanks for the tip!!

    • hithaonthego

      You’re very welcome, Shannon!

  • http://www.encircled.ca/ encircled

    Excellent tips Hitha! I use unroll.me and love it. I forgot about so many subscriptions! Rapportive looks like a neat app to add to gmail. Off to check it out!

    • hithaonthego

      Thank you! Rapporative has been a game changer for me – particularly the LinkedIn integration. Very very helpful!

  • http://www.everyday-delights.com/ Carol

    These are GREAT tips! My inbox is at 184 right now – conquering it this week with you as inspiration!

    • hithaonthego

      You can do it! I’m happy you found the tips useful :)

  • http://www.vmacandcheese.com/ victoria | vmac + cheese

    Unroll Me = life changing. That is all.

    • hithaonthego

      Hell. Yes.

  • http://www.thefieldingreport.com Emily Trout

    Excellent post Hitha! I was just thinking of writing one myself, but with the Outlook slant because it’s what I have to use at work.
    I work with a Zero Inbox as well- see, it can be done! :) Also, I’m going to check out the rapporative plug-in, that could be useful!

    • hithaonthego

      That’d be great, Emily! Link up once you’ve written it – I’d love to read that post.

  • http://whatdresscodeblog.com/ Liz McAvoy

    SUCH helpful tools, Hitha — who knew something like Rapporative even existed, genius!

  • http://tieraloha.com/ Tiera Kekaula

    Amazing tips! I didn’t use Gmail at my last job so I had to save templates in drafts, but I’m setting up canned responses now at my new job! Have you heard of the app Mailbox? The goal of the app is to get your inbox to zero by having you quickly sort your emails into custom folders or have the email resent to you a later time — all done via swipe. Using the app saves me SO much time, and when I actually sit at the computer I have so much less to wade through!

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