Your Email Inbox Is Out of Control. These 5 Tools Will Help

April 28, 2016, 2:00 PM UTC
Illustration by Pablo Bernasconi for Fortune

This piece originally appeared on

With great power comes great responsibility—and that responsibility is often accompanied by an endless barrage of emails.

The average worker spends an estimated 28% of the workweek managing email, according to a recent study. That share of the day can grow even larger for senior business leaders as they manage a busy workforce by way of their inboxes.

The near ubiquitous problem of email overload has prompted the development of numerous systems to help better manage inbox workflow—from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Yesterbox method to a recent French proposal tolegally allow workers to disconnect from email after working hours.

Read on for a selection of tools that can help tame an out-of-control inbox and get you and your company running more efficiently. Maybe one of these solutions will help you finally get to that mythological organizational Eden called inbox zero.


Available for: Gmail and Outlook

What it does: Boomerang bills itself as a “snooze button” for email messages. The program lets users clean up their inboxes without losing track of important messages and helps manage messages that can’t be dealt with immediately, but that need attention or a response later. The program can help you remember to pay bills, schedule birthday or holiday notes when you have the time to write them, make sure you follow up with a sales lead and even clear out travel confirmation emails from your inbox and return them on the day of your trip.

Coolest feature: You can set it to “boomerang” a message back to your inbox, to remind you of it on a specific date at a specific time.

What it costs: A basic version is free, while more advanced versions start at $4.99 per month.



Available for: Outlook, Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, and iCloud

What it does: Subscription newsletters are a leading contributor to email clutter. is a free service that allows users to combine those types of emails into one easy-to-read message. First, the software scans your inbox and allows you to easily unsubscribe from junk emails. Next, you can combine your favorite subscriptions into a single daily digest email called the Rollup that you can have delivered at any point throughout the day.

Coolest feature: It works for social media notifications, also.

What it costs: Free


Available for: All email programs

What it does: Mailstrom offers an extra layer of organization for your inbox. The software identifies bundles of related mail and makes it easy for you to act on them as a group.

Coolest feature: Mailstrom includes a “chill” function that allows users to decide when to deal with incoming messages, and and an “expire” feature to set a time limit for emails from certain senders to remain in your inbox. The “People I’ve Emailed” view lets you go directly to the emails from people you most often reply to.

What it costs: Multi-tiered pricing—with Basic ($4.95/mo., $49.95/year) Plus ($9.95/mo., $99.95/year) and Pro ($29.95/mo., $199.95/year) subscriptions available—but everyone starts with a free trial


Available for: Outlook, specific to Android and iOS platforms

What it does: Touchdown by Symantec enables users to operate their Outlook emails securely on any mobile device. It allows access to email, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes and can even handle out of office and rule settings.

Coolest feature: It provides more than 80% of the functionality of Outlook on desktop, according to its website.

What it costs: $19.99


Available for: Gmail and other Google Apps

What it does: Taskforce lets you convert emails into to-do-list items, so you can set reminders, add due dates, assign them to others and check them off when they’re done.

Coolest feature: The software allows you to easily group your to-do lists into folders, so you can keep all of your tasks and emails organized in one place.

What it costs: After a free two-week trial, it’s $5 per month.