One of the most dangerous and less-emphasized distractions in a workplace is the email. The email is a strong trap because when browsing your email, you feel productive. There’s a sense that you’re still doing something important, because technically you’re still plugged into work. However, we shouldn’t be fooled. The truth is, email surfing can be just as much of a time sink as Facebook or Youtube. In fact, it may be even more difficult to avoid, because it is generally well-accepted at work. Consequently, making sure that your quote unquote Gmail productivity remains high is an admirable goal to target.
If your workplace utilizes Gmail, there are some strong ways to tackle this issue. There are definitely non-technological ways to approach this problem, like hiring a PA or an executive assistant to handle your inbox. Alternatively, here are some Gmail productivity extensions that can help curtail your email addiction.
Free Pause Gmail by CloudHQ
One of the strongest causes of sudden email surfing can be receiving an email that compels you to look at it. This interesting email then causes you to look the other emails you received, and before you know it you’ve jumped down the rabbit hole again.
Free Pause Gmail is an extension that tackles the root cause of that loop. Specifically, it ensures that, no emails will enter your inbox when you’re set to work. This way, you won’t be distracted by your email so easily, as the sole reason of going there (being able to check what else is new in your inbox) has disappeared.
Pros of Free Pause Gmail
This Gmail productivity extension is extremely easy to use, and it does its stated job exactly right. Out of the other extensions, it definitely is the best at tackling the email surfing problem.
Cons of Free Pause Gmail
There aren’t many cons for this extension, considering how niche this type of function is. It does what it needs to, so you can’t really fault it for not doing other potential things that it could do. For example, it doesn’t necessarily stop the email surfing habit completely. Even if you use Free Pause Email, you can still decide to check old messages or reread old but interesting ones.
To be fair, this Gmail productivity extension never claimed to be able to stop users from reading old emails. The biggest issue with Free Pause is, of course, if your coworker has an urgent message to send you, and your email isn’t open for reception. This stumbling block becomes a significant factor if you’re working from home or outside your physical headquarters.
Inbox When Ready for Gmail
Inbox When Ready is a different kind of Gmail productivity extension. Instead of blocking incoming emails for later discovery, it instead completely eliminates the inbox altogether. You can set schedules for what times your inbox is blocked, how many times you can check your inbox, or even how much of your inbox is blocked.
Inbox When Ready has a free and Pro version. The biggest deal breaker with the free version is the signature that is added at the bottom of every email you send; it basically serves as Inbox When Ready’s watermark. Purchasing the Pro version (a steal at $4 a month) lets you remove that watermark.
Pros of Inbox When Ready
Completely eliminating the inbox is a productivity lifesaver, as you suddenly have no ability to approach email surf anymore. Additionally, the strong customizability of it is amazing— you can tailor it to your email surfing habits. If you struggle with checking your email in the morning at work, but can get into a groove later without difficulty, then you can set a timer for your morning inbox to be cleared. The versatility of this tool is one of its major benefits.
Cons of Inbox When Ready
The tool’s versatility can also be a double-edged sword. While being able to edit the extension’s time of use and frequency of use at a minuscule level can be very beneficial, it can also make it hard to tune the extension normally.
For example, if I only wanted to get in two hours of solid work without seeing my inbox, I can’t simply click on the extension to turn it on or off. I would either have to manually turn it on or off in my extensions browser, or edit my “time preferences” so that it would align, which may cause my pain down the line as I forget to tune it back. All in all, while it is strong as an automated tool, its manual usage leaves something to be desired.
DocuSign for Gmail
While this Gmail productivity extension doesn’t necessarily track your time or prevent distractions, DocuSign for Gmail is a tool that makes your life easier. For a good businessman or legal counsel, a tool to consistently and simply sign and send documents is incredibly useful. It saves a ton of time, which would then theoretically allow you to use your Gmail in a more productive fashion.
Pros of DocuSign
Docusign doesn’t just allow you to sign and send documents easily. The extension has the following perks: Access document templates from within Chrome, the signatures are unique and legally binding, all data is safely encrypted on their servers, and the extension can even send reminders without leaving your inbox.
Cons of DocuSign
Of course, comparing the cons of this extension against others doesn’t really make sense. This is meant for a very specific purpose, and it fulfills it pretty well. However, the one issue I have is that you must have a Docusign account in order to use it, and this would cost you around $10 a month. However, this makes sense from their perspective, and if you’re somebody who uses documents often it is more than worth it.
Ultimately, all of these tools are strong ways to diversify how you treat your Gmail. Whether it is blocking distractions or even pausing incoming emails, these extensions really provide a unique way to enforce gmail productivity.
Of course, Gmail isn’t the most distracting possibility in the workplace, especially during work from home. Here are some other extensions to really ensure you remain undistracted in the home office.
Roland Polzin is a co-founder and the CMO at Wing Assistant, a product-driven managed B2B marketplace connecting SMEs with vetted talent and making delegation efficient and secure. In 2020 he received his MBA from The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine, and in the same year, he and his fellow Wing co-founders joined the Skydeck Accelerator at UC Berkeley. Previously, Roland served in the German Army as Chief PR Officer.