Soon you won't have to visit your SaneLater folder
We here at SaneBox think you should spend as little time as possible on your email. You have better things to do with your time!
So we take the unimportant stuff out of your INBOX so it won’t distract you.
And we send you an email digest of the unimportant stuff so you can quickly search for nuggets of gold.
Now you can move those nuggets to your INBOX from the digest!!!
If you are like me and you want to stay in your INBOX whenever possible this new feature is a huge boon. With one click in your email digest (Arrow #2 in the picture), you flag and move any unimportant email and our email monkeys will move that email to your INBOX and flag it to make it easy to find.
You can still “train” a particular kind of email (Arrow #1 in the picture) to your INBOX from the digest with a single click. And when you do that **all** emails of that kind will be deemed INBOX-worthy.
Now you have to find something productive to do with all this time we are saving you. Remember your family? your job? an old friend?
Your weekly activity report now declares your “ranking” amongst the other SaneBox users. What does this number mean?
The idea behind the ranking is to give each SaneBox user points for good email behavior and take away points for bad behavior. Your overall count reflects this algorithm. And your particular ranking is meant to nudge users to develop better email habits.
The ultimate SaneBox user would do the following:
1. Process their email the first time you open it. (deal with it and then file,archive,delete or defer it)
2. do a good job of declaring as much email as possible unimportant.
David Allen in GTD says to focus on the most important thing **now**. And avoid getting distracted by the shiny stuff. You can only do this if you are willing to admit that there are lots of emails that are unimportant. In SaneBox parlance, this means that you get penalized for gratuitously making emails INBOX worthy. Seriously, do you need to know that your new toothbrush shipped in the last 5 minutes.
3. Process more email. Sorry those of you who get less email. We are rewarding the heavy lifting that some of our high bandwidth users are doing. But don’t give up, the other 3 rules can overcome this one.
4. Don’t fidget with your unimportant email. That stuff is unimportant for a reason. We put it in a separate folder so you won’t feel the siren call. If you can’t bear the feeling that you are missing something, have your email digest summary arrive more often.
We will be adding to these rules over time, but this gives you a sense of why you are super star or why you might need to change some of those bad email behaviors.
We have always tried to make SaneBox as GTD-like as possible. GTD means do what is most important right now. Keep your focus and be productive. SaneBox does this by creating an INBOX with exactly what you need to deal with NOW. But, GTD also points out that there are projects that need to get done later that require little pieces of work as you go along. Now SaneBox addresses this too.
One of the highest requested features on SaneBox is the ability for us to filter by topic instead of importance. One user suggested the ability to create a folder with receipts that needed to be booked into an expense report at the end of the month. This suggested use case really resonated with me.
I use Kashoo.com to keep SaneBox’s accounting books. And there is a set of emails that need to get “booked” every month as an expense or income. So having those emails corralled into one folder for me is a huge time saver.
Now SaneBox can’t guess which email receipts need to be booked in my accounting system, versus receipts that are simply needed for reference, so to make this work, we invented “User Defined Sane Folders”.
You click on the “add user defined folder” link in the http://sanebox.com/settings page. Name the folder whatever you want. And start throwing emails into it.
I already have a @SaneKashoo folder and it has lowered my stress level enormously. Instead of being bummed out everytime I see those receipt emails that I haven’t booked yet, I now know that they are waiting for me to deal with them when I have time. All nicely organized in @SaneKashoo.
We have plans to allow users to re-use each other’s Sane folder definitions and we are thinking of rewarding those users with the **most** re-used folders.
But, in the meantime, make yourself one and make your life a little more organized.
Last week, somewhat quietly, we fielded Referral Rewards. Thanks to Andrew Parker for a great idea.
Here’s how it works:
You join SaneBox. SaneBox will move distracting emails out of the way. And using our defer, black hole, and SPAM monitor folders you will save yourself copious amounts of time and effort. AND your first 30 days are free.
Then, you invite a friend to sign up for SaneBox either using the invitation page or sending them a special invitation link. They sign up. You auto-magically get another free 30 days of SaneBox. You get 30 days for every friend that signs up.
So sign up 11 friends this year and get SaneBox for free for the whole year!
Do this every year and you never have to pay us a cent. But, shhhh…. don’t tell anyone because we’d like for some people to pay :-)
It is finally Summer in Boston. Can you tell that puts all of us here at SaneBox into a good mood?
The biggest challenge for those using SaneBox is “letting go" of the unimportant stuff and concentrating on their INBOX. To help with this, we send an "unread, unimportant email digest" which allows everyone to quickly scan the cruft to make sure there isn’t a nugget of gold there.
Now you can have this digest whenever you want it!
1. This is where you click to change the number of times you get the digest.
2. This is a link to a webpage to help you triage **all** your unimportant email at once.
3. If I want this bi-monthly payroll approval reminder to go in my INBOX, I would click here.
By default, all SaneBox users get a “Digest of unread unimportant emails” each afternoon. This digest is a summary of all the emails that SaneBox moved to your SaneLater folder. And a summary of your trainings.
We created the digest to try to give users better habits around their unimportant email. I have found that my beloved SaneBox users either completely ignore their SaneLater folder or they check it way too often. We later added training info to the email because I wanted a convenient way for users to check on their most recent trainings.
Users that ignore their SaneLater folder have come to believe that putting emails off means you never have to deal with them. The healthier approach is to triage those emails archiving most of them, promoting ones that are INBOX worthy, and dealing with the others as time permits. We will continue to empower the digest so that you will be able to do all these things quickly and easily. Currently you can only easily retrain emails (stay tuned for POWER digest features coming to your email client soon)
Users that check their SaneLater folder too often are simply afraid to let go. The digest is meant to be the security blanket that you need to do that. Concentrate on the important stuff or better yet get something important done that has nothing to do with your email. When the digest comes, check the unimportant stuff. Have the digest come more often if you are really anxious but stop nervously checking your SaneLater folder!
I have an old friend who has always had trouble keeping up with his email. Let’s call him FooBar. FooBar get’s a **lot** of email. And it was his email woes, in addition to that of other friends, that caused me to create http://sanebox.com.
No I’m not going to mention FooBar by name. He is a good guy with this one little foible: he thinks every single email might be crucial to his life.
To understand this story you have to know that SaneBox makes decisions about what is “important” email and what is “unimportant” email. This is a GTD type decision based on what needs your attention right now versus what can wait. And SaneBox has layers of importance so we distinguish things that can wait a little with things that can wait a longer while.
SaneBox moves the “unimportant” emails automatically out of your INBOX to your SaneLater folder.
FooBar can’t admit that focusing and keeping up with the important stuff is worth letting one email wait a couple of hours. And this is The Problem.
SaneBox users are supposed to scan their “unimportant” email at least once a dayto make sure that a timely issue hasn’t slipped in there. We can send a digest to your INBOX once or several times a day to make that triage easier. But, you still have to admit to yourself that it is OK if something out-of-the-blue from someone-you-have-no-real-connection-to comes in and waits a few hours until you have time to notice it.
I find that the everything-is-important people are often the leave-email-in-their-INBOX people. They use the read flag to indicate that they already triaged that particular email. THIS IS CRAZY and will lead to email INSANITY. Touch your email as few times as possible. If you’ve opened it and you can deal with it, deal with it (read,forward,reply and then defer,delete,archive,file). GET IT OUT OF YOUR INBOX!
There is the occasional email that will take more time than you have now. SaneBox has defer folders for this. You put the email in one of our defer folders and it disappears from your INBOX until the time you have specified. Whenever you read an email and leave it in your INBOX it forces you to scroll passed it every single time you look in your INBOX. And let’s be honest you look there A LOT.
So, this is a public plee to my email challenged friends and all those out there that areeverything-is-important people (especially FooBar). Please acknowledge that you are only human and some things deserve your attention right now and some things don’t. Go sign up for http://SaneBox.com.
Today we fielded a new optional folder called SaneArchive. This option keeps the total count of Sane folder emails to a maximum of 5000. The 5001st oldest email will automatically be filed into the SaneArchive folder.
We’ve discovered that as we get better and better at separating the unimportant email into SaneLater, our users spend less and less time processing (filing,deleting) those emails. So the number in that folder simply grows and grows.
We have always labeled the most recent 5000 emails. So when we see the 5001st email, we will unlabel the oldest one, put it back into the INBOX, to bring the total under our quota.
SaneArchive, when active, will act as a repository for these oldest emails. So, instead of putting the old ones back in the INBOX, we will put them in SaneArchive.
We could simply “archive” them in gmail, but then we would not be able to reverse the process if you should decide you hate the folder or our service. If you turn SaneArchive “off”, we simply return it’s emails to your INBOX. If you “cancel” the SaneBox service, we simply return all Sane folder emails, including the SaneArchive folder emails, back to your INBOX. In either case, your INBOX looks just like it did before you clicked.
If you want to force an old email to stay in your INBOX: simply “flag” or “star” it.
In my on-going attempt to live my startup life out loud, here is the status of SaneBox.com
SaneBox was started on 2/20/2010.
It automatically files unimportant emails into a @SaneLater folder so your Inbox is free of distractions.
It does this with global rules and a statistical analysis of your email history and your relationships with other social networks. Training is as easy as moving an email from the wrong folder to the correct one. It has an @SaneBlackHole folder for training emails to trash and folders for deferring emails. It can also discern up to 5 levels of importance and file accordingly. It can report every week on how you are doing with your email.
1 month to first private beta user.
6 months to first direct free bundled competition: Google Priority Inbox
8 months to public release on gmail and google apps.
Now: (11 Months later)
Since going public (users having to pay after the initial 30 day trial) we are converting at 11.33%. So we get 11 paying customers for every 100 trails. People tell me that this is good, but I still reach out to the other 89 users every time to see how we failed them. I will blog about why people quit SaneBox separately.
We have been adding features and improving accuracy and scaling and now have aworking beta to provide SaneBox for ALL IMAP servers: yahoo.com, me.com, exchange, dovecot, you name it. This involves taking user passwords so we have upped the overall security of everything including encrypting those passwords and all authorization credentials with a key that has to be typed in by hand. If someone were to steal the code AND the database, they still would not have access to those passwords. If you want in on the beta, email me: roseman dash beta at sanebox dot com.
The website was running a bounce rate of 62% so I hired Performable to put together some new landing pages and they are in the midst of A/B testing to bring those numbers under control. I’ll blog about this effort separately. What do you think of the website? My team hates the font.
I am installing 2 new blades with 24 cores and 128GB of RAM each which will 5x our current capacity.
So far our traffic has been generated 100% virally. It’s time to start paying for key words.
That’s it for now. I’m off with my wife for a kidless, not-on-call, 4 nights and 5 days, beach vacation tomorrow. It’s supposed to start snowing again here in Boston at 9AM. Our plane takes off at 8:45AM. Wish us luck.