SaneBox – a better gmail experience

I’ve been using email for about 22 years. It’s crazy to write that number down because it makes me feel old but there it is.

Email has improved in five key ways over the last 22 years, namely:

1. webmail

2. portable mail

3. push/instant

4. threading/conversations

5. search

Yet, it’s still a mess. Last year I wrote about my beef with email:

Its [email is] filled with all sorts of stuff and the default view (on the blackberry) is reverse chronological order.

That means that the most recent email are the ones that “bubble up” to the top. And “new” doesn’t always equal important or urgent.

So SMS fills an important void. It does a better job of urgency and light conversation.

Wanna tell me you are running late for our mtg? Pls god don’t send me an email. Send me a DM on twitter or send me a sms.

Other ways email can improve? Here’s a list right of the cuff: 1)show me emails from people that I care about the most first 2)show me emails that are replies to my original email 3) show me emails where I’m on the cc list later 4)remind me when I have replied to items #1 and #2 in a new way (avoid falling thru the cracks syndrome) 5) don’t show me unimportant emails on the weekend or when I’m on vacation.

Email is an incredible tool. But it needs to get smarter still.

I’ve declared email bankruptcy in the past and plenty of others, including my friend Fred Wilson,  continue to fight with their inbox every day. Just look at the number of folks trying to achieve inbox zero. It’s a constant struggle.

But a few months ago Stu Roseman told me that he was going to build a product that will help my gmail life improve. And he did just that.

The product is called SaneBox and I love it. 

SaneBox does a number of things. It looks at your relationships and creates a gmail label called SaneTop. That is a list of your most important contacts. It’s smart, it evolves and it’s done automatically. That’s the first thing I check in the morning or when I’m pressed for time. 

It also creates a label called SaneLater. That’s stuff that’s not important and not time sensitive. Those two things alone have made my email life better. 

SaneBox (still in beta) does other stuff too but those are the killer features for me. Plus it’s a breeze to setup. Two clicks and you are done. It all works within gmail instead of forcing me to another website or app. So my keyboard shortcuts, threads, send/archive, labs etc all remain. 

If you are a gmail user and give SaneBox a try.

Update, 10/3/2013: Sanebox is now in full production and open to the public. They work with every mail client and service known to man, (except POP only services like Earthlink). 

(full disclosure: i am not an investor in SaneBox but Stu is like family to me)