Boost Email Productivity with Boomerang
True confession: I recently went on an e-mail killing spree.
The objects of my ire were all of those not-so-crucial e-mails that I’d saved under my Gmail account. And I took a certain pleasure in squashing many of them with my Delete key. Ahhh. Nothing like a leaner, meaner Gmail account.
Unfortunately, you can only get so far by killing superfluous e-mails. That’s because a lot of the e-mail in our lives is truly useful. It just needs better management.
Enter Boomerang, a handy add-on for Gmail, Google Apps, and Microsoft Outlook users. It will allow you to:
- Schedule email in Gmail or Outlook
- Track responses to emails
- Schedule recurring email
- Put messages back in your inbox when you really need to deal with them. This is the boomerang function for which the software is named.
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Being a long-time user of Mozilla Firefox, I was glad to read that my favorite browser was among the three supported by Boomerang. The other two are Google Chrome and Apple Safari.
When I tried to install Boomerang, my script blocking software took offense. Hence, no Boomerang installation on Firefox.
Problem/Solution: If you’re among the people who’ve experienced a malware attack, you know just how difficult and expensive these beasts can be to get rid of. During my malware ordeal of last summer, I came to know my computer support guys very well.
Among other things, the support guys installed a hyper-sensitive script blocker that has kept all sorts of bad things off of my computer. It also prevented the installation of Boomerang. The solution? Install it on my second-favorite browser, Chrome.
Once Boomerang is installed, you’ll see a dropdown menu next to your name in the Google toolbar. The dropdown offers two ways to learn about using Boomerang:
- Help, which opens a web page filled with answers to Frequently Asked Questions. (My favorite answer, in response to the request for a free version of Boomerang if you schedule more than 10 messages a month, is: “Without subscriptions, we cannot feed our team — even ramen! Trust us, you’re not helping us buy Ferraris and Port-glazed Kobe Beef – more like a bike and a couple orders of Pad Thai.”)
- How To, which takes you on a tour of Boomerang’s features. The tour includes one-to three-sentence summaries of each feature along with videos. For the hearing-impaired community, these videos pose a problem because they are not captioned.
What can you do with Boomerang?
- Use the Boomerang! If you get e-mails that have to be dealt with by a certain date, you’ve probably kept them in your inbox as reminders. And, let me guess, you got so used to seeing them there that you forgot to pay the electric bill or something else that’s equally important. Oops. The solution is to let Boomerang help you schedule a date and time for that message to re-appear in your in box. No more electric company late fees for you! And once you’ve paid your electric bill before the due date, you can squash that billing notice with your Delete key.
- Schedule your emails. If one of your friends is on a hiking trip and doesn’t have email access, there won’t be any point in sending him a message today. But you can use Boomerang to schedule an email that will reach him when he returns home next week.
- Manage your scheduled emails. Back to that hiking friend. Let’s say that, after you scheduled next week’s message, you realized that he’ll probably be busy with all the other emails that stacked up in his absence from civilization. Boomerang to the rescue – you reschedule your message for two weeks hence.
- Turbo-charge your “notes to self.” Do you send yourself email reminders? Use Boomerang’s recurring messages feature to get a monthly “pay the rent” reminder into your in box. Or send a message to your work team so everyone remembers that weekly meeting at the pub. If you’re a smart phone user who thinks of this, that, and the other thing while you’re on the go, this will probably be your favorite feature on Boomerang Mobile.
- Track responses to your emails. You can set Boomerang to send you a reminder to follow up with the people who didn’t respond. Caveat: Since Boomerang is an email add-on, the default follow-up mode is the sending of another message, but use your discretion. Some of the people on your list might not be email people the way you are. They might be phone people. (Give them a call!) Or they’re face-to-face people. (Make arrangements to visit them!)
- Add notes to your Boomeranged messages. When that message flies back home to your inbox, you can add a reminder note to it. This note won’t appear in your e-mail, so don’t worry. No one else will see it.
After you’ve finished your 30-day free trial, Boomerang for Gmail offers three levels of service:
- Basic, which is free for as long as you schedule 10 messages or less per month.
- The Personal subscription costs $4.99 a month, but it does not include Boomerang Mobile for your smart phone.
- The Pro subscription is $14.99 a month and includes Boomerang Mobile.
The Microsoft Outlook version comes with a 30-day free trial. Then there’s a $29.95 one-time fee to purchase.