(Popular Mechanics) Pressure from messing apps like Slack is forcing innovation from traditional email companies. That's good news for you, and very good news for Alexander George, who says: A recent text from my boss: "Did you get my email? Thanks." George said, "I'm terrible at email. I loathe checking my inbox, so I just don't do it." The promise that chat apps such as Slack will finally replace the majority of his email exchanges does make him optimistic. As of last year, Slack had more than 1.5 million subscribers. Still, more than 3.7 billion people in the world have email accounts, and it seems like 3 billion of them email him every day. But traditional email providers and independent companies have come up with algorithms that, along with some behavioral changes, can help get his inbox back to its original purpose: efficient communication. Even if you're not as hopeless as George is, they can help you:

You are a procrastinator

Try the Gmail app Smart Reply. Google software looks for phrases like "meet Thursday or Friday?" and usually posts three usually relevant suggested responses above your phone's keyboard. Tap one and drop in the text like "Let's do Thursday," and adapt as necessary. Smart Reply learns from your responses, so it won't suggest a smiley emoji if you're not an emoji person.

You catch up on emails late at night and feel guilty burdening people after-hours

Try Delay Delivery. Microsoft recently added this feature to the current version of Outlook, the email service used at Popular Mechanics. Instead of "Send," you hit "Delay Delivery" and put in a date and time, and Outlook will send it at a more reasonable hour. Gmail and other services have this, too. Great for remembering birthdays or appearing like a functional morning person instead of a sleep-deprived insomniac.

You respond to texts way better than to email

Try forwarding certain emails as text messages. Find the "Rules" section of your email app, and create one for the addresses of any VIP sender. To forward that message as a text, you'll need to find your phone's email address. T-Mobile structures addresses as your phone number at tmomail.net. You'll need to check your mobile carrier for your own information.

You are buried in junk mail

Try a smart inbox. Over the last few years, Hotmail, Google, and Outlook introduced their versions of self-filtering inboxes, which separate human emails from marketing blasts to see you discounted parts. Right now, the free app Spark does this best. It connects all of your email accounts and automatically prioritizes emails from people you've corresponded with in the past. It also lets you isolate the people who actually matter including your boss, spouse, gondolier, whoever and you get notified only when they contact you. You can snooze emails you want to deal with later, or pin important messages to the top of your inbox so they never get lost.

You have given up

Try starting over. If your personal email address is too far beyond filtering, and you have fewer than a dozen or so people you really want to talk to via email, make a new address. Post an out-of-office/vacation prompt for the old address saying that you no longer use this for correspondence, but keep it running for your Amazon and Seamless confirmations.


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