Use Gmail plugins to increase productivity

Intro/disclaimer: Gmail is the best email platform available today, hands down. I am under the assumption you already use Gmail, and these tools will just make you a little quicker while you work. If you haven’t been using Gmail, don’t tell anyone – just sign up, it’s free. You can thank me later. If you are stuck using Outlook or Lotus Notes, there are some ways to make your life less miserable, but you won’t find them here.


ActiveInbox Logo

This plugin rocks! It provides power tools in the familiar Gmail environment to power through your email and keep track of actionable items. The underlying concept uses Gmail’s labels as a tagging system for your email, so you can get that inbox down to zero, and not worry about forgetting anything!

I love the review bar at the top that allows me to quickly review the emails I have marked as actionable, as well as the ones I am waiting on responses from others.

ActiveInbox Review Bar

This video shows all of the cool features ActiveInbox provides:

Boomerang for Gmail

Boomerang's Send Later FeatureBoomerang does some incredible things like send an email later [see screenshot]. I mainly use this so I don’t look crazy emailing at 2am, or so it hits my boss’s inbox at just the right time. I use it to return emails to my inbox at a certain time, so I get a timely reminder when something I need to work on something. I often use the “Only if nobody replies” to make sure others’ respond in a timely manner as well. Once I hit send, it is off my mind!

The free version has been sufficient, and when I run out of my monthly quota, I get a very forgiving “Give me one more message!” option which I use liberally. Thanks, Boomerang!

Gmail Labs and Standard Features

These are not technically plugins, but I have enabled a few Labs features under Gmail’s settings that make it an even more powerful email system.

  • Send and Archive: this saves me a click and a few precious seconds for every email I reply to!
  • Insert images: next to drag and drop attachments (which Gmail now has in Chrome), this was the last feature that I cared about from my Outlook days – I don’t even look back now.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts: these are must-use to maximize your email processing efficiency (G, then I to go to inbox. E to archive. \ to begin typing a search)! Like Michael Hyatt points out in Yes, You Can Stay on Top of Email, using the keyboard is much more efficient than switching back and forth to a mouse or trackpad. To see all the available shortcuts, just type a ? in Gmail.
  • Undo Send: I can move so fast through Gmail now, sometimes an “Oops” button is helpful. 🙂
  • Archive, don’t delete: that trash can icon should just be removed from Gmail. The Gmail search is crazy powerful, and I can find any message in seconds by searching. Again, off my mind, in my searchable email system.

How do you make your email work for you, and keep it from becoming overwhelming?


  1. I have several Google Apps accounts forward to my single Gmail account. From within one account, I’m able to send email from any address because I have them configured in Settings > Accounts and Import > Send mail as. Each address can have its own signature.

    I use these Gmail Labs:
    Default ‘Reply to all’
    Signature tweaks
    Undo Send

    1. Sounds a lot like my world! I would recommend giving ActiveInbox a spin on top of that list. It is a powerful GTD tool, in my opinion.

  2. Wait… a send later add on? You’re my hero! I’ve been dreaming of something like this, but hadn’t found a easy add on. I’m downloading this ASAP. So glad I found your blog from your Twitter account!

    1. Glad it was helpful, Dana (I presume)! I use it often…

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