This Email Hack Will Save You So Much Time

There are many moments in the day when a personal assistant could come in handy, from having lunch ready on your desk at 12:30 sharp to making sure you get your dry cleaning on time. But there's one task more valuable than laundry, meeting timeliness, and meal assistance: email.

Unless you're the kind of person who miraculously manages to maintain inbox zero — and, if you are, we want your secrets — answering and sending emails makes your days longer (and often makes it difficult to ever truly leave the office). In 2015, technology market research firm Radicati estimated that we send and receive over 205 billion emails per day, and the average person has to deal with 122 work emails each day. Those numbers aren't expected to go down any time soon.

So your email struggles aren't going to disappear of their own accord. But what if we told you that you can now have a personal assistant to help with them, free of charge?

That's what you get with Respondable, a new email service from the team behind Boomerang. Boomerang launched six years ago as a browser extension for Gmail. It lets you turn on read receipts, schedule emails ahead of time, and resurface important emails to the top of your inbox later in the day. Respondable takes those services a step further by also helping you craft the perfect email message. Here's how it works.

After installing Boomerang, go to your Gmail account and open a new message. In the bottom right corner, you'll see a new button that says Boomerang Respondable. When you click that, you'll see various categories, including subject length, word count, and reading level. Start typing your message, and you'll see those parameters change, with the arrow above moving up or down. So, what does it all mean?

Respondable uses machine learning to determine how likely your email is to be read. The tool assesses the success of your email based on some predetermined factors. For example, research has shown that messages are more likely to get a response if they fall between 50 and 125 words. If you write a message that's shorter or longer than that, Respondable will tell you, so you can make a change if necessary.

This is not only ideal for when you need a coworker to get back to you immediately, but also if you're applying for a job and want to increase your chances of getting a response.

Respondable's basic assessment tools — subject length, word count, question count, and reading level — are free, but you can subscribe to a monthly plan for access to advanced features that include positivity, politeness, and subjectivity measurements.

If a big part of your job is sending emails, this could be the tool you've been waiting for.
Photo: Madeline Buxton.

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