Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

I am always looking for ways to make my life simpler.

I’ve found two that really seem to keep my inbox clean.

  1. Sanebox
  2. FollowUpThen

Both work with any email client or operating system (as far as I know).


Sanebox scans incoming mail and decides if it is important or not. If it looks like spam, a newsletter, an autoresponder, a mass mailing, an order receipt from Amazon.com or anything like that, it quickly removes it from your Inbox and puts it to a separate @SaneLater folder. Of course you can train it. If something is spam, you can move it into  @SaneBlackHole and it will never show up again. If something is incorrectly categorized as less important, you simply move it to your inbox and next time all emails from that person will arrive in your inbox (and vice versa). This keeps my inbox VERY clean. I can stay on top of the important messages while reviewing the less critical ones less frequently. This runs “in the cloud” so there is nothing to install on your computer, tablet or phone.


FollowUpThen is an awesome service. Once you set up your account, you simply forward (or bcc/cc) an email to timeframe@followupthen.com and you will get the email back at that date/time. For example, if I get an email that I don’t want to work on now, but want to deal with in a week, I forward it to “1week@followupthen.com.” And I delete the original email. A week later that email shows up again in my inbox. If a prospect wants me to follow up with them in a month, I respond to them and in the same email I bcc “1month@followupthen.com.” And again I delete the original email. My inbox is no longer a list of items I need to deal with in the future. I forward the email and delete it, knowing it will arrive back in my inbox at the requested date (and yes, you can set specific dates and times). My inbox has never been cleaner. And, the customer service support is EXCEPTIONAL!

In addition, I use Spamarrest. I’ve been using this for MANY years. If an email is received from someone that is not on my “whitelist,” they get an email back indicating they need to confirm their identity. Although they only need to do this once, it is an inconvenience for people, so I don’t love this approach. I only use it on 2 older email addresses that are overflowing with spam. I don’t use this for my main email address because I want it to be easy for prospects, clients, or friends to reach me.

It is easy for email to suck up a large portion of your day. These tools have made my life so much simpler.

What do you use? Please share your best email productivity tools.

P.S. I know some people set up an autoresponder on their email saying “I only check mail once a day so call if you need to reach me.” This is an ok solution, but given how much business is conducted over email, this is not one I like. I want to be “easy to do business with.”

  1. Janus Kannuberg says:

    but gmail has this feature built in. It marks what is “Important and Unread”, and “Starred” and “Everything else”. Why then use Sanebox?

    • Janus, I do believe that gmail has some of the features of sanebox. I don’t use gmail for all of my accounts (I use spamarrest for one account). And, as far as I can tell, gmail doesn’t have all of the features of sanebox. Then again, I’m not a gmail expert (I only recently switched for one account). I will play around with gmail a bit more and come back to you with my thoughts. I really like sandbox. Thanks for your comment!

    • Janus, I’ve been playing around for a bit…and am convinced that SaneBox adds some features. For example, Google let through quite a few items which were clearly spam. In some cases marks them as important. SaneBox immediately picked up that it was not really important and moved it to the special folder. I also have created other folders (for emails from LinkedIn for example) and Sanebox automatically identifies them and moves the email there. Even though gmail has a lot of features, SaneBook seems to add more.

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