Jo Recommends: Sanebox

jo recommends sanebox

One of the biggest complaints I hear from entrepreneurs, clients, & friends is their email abyss.

How much time do YOU spend processing your emails? Deleting spam – or checking spam for the one message someone swears they sent you? Going back through your email inbox to remind yourself who you’ve forgotten to respond to? – My personal list goes on and on. . .  I know that while I try to set humane limits on my business – email is the one black hole that keeps sucking me back in and keeping me at my computer longer than I intended.

Ok I’d love to say I’ve completely solved this problem – I haven’t – but thanks to this new service I found, my email has become so much less time consuming.  Meet SaneBox .  SaneBox works with most email services (even mac mail – which I love) and what it does is really unique.  It looks through your whole history and pulls out the people it believes you really want/need to hear from and puts their emails in your inbox.  All the rest it puts in a SaneLater folder.

What I love about this is now my inbox really has the important emails I need to see/respond to and I can go through my other folders and delete through these emails rapidly, occasionally reading one that really seems relevant.  I also use SaneNews folder for newsletters/subscriptions.  There’s even a SaneBlackHole for people you never want to hear from again – no need to click through and unsubscribe.  For example this morning I had 4 emails in my inbox that really were for me and important – I had 11 in my SaneLater and 18 in my SaneNews (I know, I get a lot of newsletters).

I’m passing this along because I think it’s fantastic.  For those of you with entrepreneurial ADD, this really helps focus your attention immediately on what and who is most important.  Then later – when you need a coffee break – go check your other folders and fly through them.  Before SaneBox I was deleting, stopping to read an email, delete, delete, get distracted follow a link and oops! I’m late leaving the house for my next appointment.  Now I make sure the important things get read and then circle back to the rest when I know I have some time to kill or much less brain power.

I hope it helps you too!

>> Click here for a free 14 day no-commitment trial*

*By clicking on the link, if you decide to subscribe past 14 days, we’ll both get a $5 credit.  Honestly the $5 doesn’t matter to me at all but helping you find a solution that really works for you does!


Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.


  1. Brian Hebbes on April 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Sounds fine, and may even persuade me to take the trouble to organise my gmail using the various tools available, as I’m sure they are in other email services.

    • Jo Ilfeld on April 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Yes Sanebox definitely works for gmail too. I think they have some gmail specific features as well but since I’m not a gmail user I’m not sure of the specifics. The longer I use Sanebox though, the more convinced I am it is the way of the future and sophisticated email filters you don’t have to keep setting up and modifying.

  2. Martin on April 12, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    How does Sanebox improve Gmail’s own “important” tag?

    • Jo Ilfeld on April 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Dear Martin,
      Unfortunately I’m a apple mail user and not gmail so I’m totally unhelpful here but I’d write Sanebox back directly. Or maybe someone else reading this post knows? Sorry I can’t be more helpful on this detail!

      • Martin on April 15, 2013 at 2:03 am

        Thanks, Jo.

  3. Dmitri on April 19, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for the great article Jo! One thing to note is that Sanebox doesn’t work only on Gmail – it works with virtually any email service, client or device with nothing to install. All of Sanebox’s features are simple email folders. So it works just as well on Apple Mail, Exchange, Outlook, iPhone, Android, etc etc.

    To answer Martin’s question about Gmail’s native important tag – Sanebox algorithms are just much more personalized. To answer your question another way – over half of our customers are on Gmail and prefer to pay us money instead of using Gmail’s native feature 🙂

    Feel free to reach out to us at if you have any other questions!

    • Jo Ilfeld on April 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks Dmitri for helping out there and visiting my blog. I’m honored! Yes I actually use Sanebox with my Apple mail and love it there which I mentioned.

      It’s now a few months into using sanebox for me and its gotten more and more intuitive and useful. I’ve also started using the Sanebox remindme feature where you can have sanebox remind you to reply to address any email by forwarding it to any time period or actual date in the future. I even send event instructions or directions to the day of the event so I don’t have to go looking through my inbox for them any longer. Great feature!!

    • C on August 12, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Gmail allows you to set up rules and delete all those emails you don’t want to get. How much more personal can you get?

      • Jo Ilfeld on August 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

        As I’ve commented before -I’m not a gmail user so I can’t compare. That being said, I do think that Sanebox works much more seamlessly than rules and is less onerous to “train.” I used rules beforehand but I was constantly having to create new ones which was a pain. I’m curious if any gmail users want to chime in about the new gmail tabs and whether or not you like them?

  4. zver on May 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    thank you for this message. now I try to adjust everything

  5. Himagain on May 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Just a couple of small comments, Jo,
    1. I could not understand your promoting THAT costly mail service.

    2. THEN I realised that you are stuck with using an Apple product. This alone precludes you from the best of facilities and – most importantly – free and near-free products and services out there that the other 92.5% of the world uses.

    3. I arrived here from a paid ad of yours on a pay-for-leads service that I am investigating, which could become pretty expensive for small, new, hopeful Net marketers.
    On the Net since before it became the Net in 1984, my constant advice to you beginners is to do just 3 important things:
    1. Do not believe a single thing you read “out there” – it is a jungle. Research for yourself. You need a free program called Zemanta to do this with any time economy.
    (Oh, don’t think it works on Apples, though. Very little does)

    2. Get 3 Gmail Accounts (also free – not for Apples, though) 1 personal, 1 business, 1 to catch the junk.

    3. Do not believe anything you see/read on any “blog” that isn’t a serious corporate one like Google. Research only in “Forums” . If you don’t know what they are yet, they are your only real source of *reasonably* factual advice.
    Unlike a Blog, which is really a vanity thing for one person (this is a blog), a Forum (or Bulletin Board) has many members eyes on any post, which helps to keep it honest. They are also a self-checking thing, as – if there aren’t a thousand members there and 5,000 messages, it probably isn’t too reliable.
    Oh, one final thing: Don’t start a blog yourself. It is too easy to do and will be a time-sucking whirlpool. Learn to setup a serious website designed to sell things seriously instead. Tie it to a Forum program like (made by the same people who made the WPress blog system) and hope to get members flocking for your genuine fish-farming expertise.

    • Jo Ilfeld on May 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Himagain, Thanks for your opinion. I am a pretty happy mac user so SaneBox works really nicely for me but I can imagine that there might be other options if you are using other mail services I’m just recommending one that I’ve liked. Re: To Blog or Not To Blog – I guess it depends what your goal is. For me, it’s to share some of my thoughts and observations in the hopes that it will inspire and enlighten other entrepreneurs and leaders and help them along on their journey. I’m not an internet marketer however so I won’t comment as to whether it is more or less effective in that realm – there are certainly many schools of opinion on that. I hope you’ll check out some of my other blog posts that have nothing to do with Mac versus gmail as well! 😉

    • Leon Buijs on May 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      Indeed, don’t believe everything you read online: gMail is as free for Mac users as it is for everyone. There is at least as much *useful* software for Mac available as there is useful software for any other system. I have never needed anything for OS X that wasn’t available, often for free, and I’ve practically been living behind the screen for two decades.

      As for Sanebox; I didn’t try it, but my advice is to look for a Bayesian type of spam filter. This boils down to an app that keeps track of all properties of both serious mail and spam. After feeding it a few hundred spam mails it will get quite accurate. Yes, of course they’re also available for other systems. This 2013 and just about any software you can think of is available for all of the big operating systems.

  6. Greg Wright on May 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    For myself, I have used the Labels in GMail with rules to do this exact same thing. The benefit I read in this article is that Sane* went to the history to find relevant people. This may be a time saver.

    But as for a free set of email tools, GMail is hard to beat for probably 90+% of the peopleout there, it’s just a matter of organizing your labels, letting your email application filter those. Gmail will even show the number of new/unread emails on the label org on the left. Just some extra ideas if SaneBox is doing too much. SaneBox from what I read here will also work on the PC/Mac itself. As for me, I am a web-email user. As Dmitri put it, the SaneBox will work on any mail service. And there are many people that will pay for SaneBox over the native features of Gmail.

    This is the reason I am even making a statement here is because I don’t agree with promoting a pay for service when people can do just a few extra steps to understand their own tools of Filters and Rules to accomplish the exact same thing. I can appreciate one-click management “to never hear from a person again”, but it also doesn’t take much to setup the rules to do the same things.

    • Jo Ilfeld on May 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      Dear Greg,

      Thanks for posting your quick tips. Personally I found that I was spending a lot of time creating rules which felt annoying to me. I do admit I subscribe to many blogs/newsletters though to keep up with my industry. It’s true that subscribing to a paid service isn’t right for everyone. It worked for me personally though so I shared it on my blog. I’m always in favor of free clever solutions though. I think having multiple options just helps everyone find a system for them so they aren’t so outrageously overwhelmed by the influx of emails we get these days!


    • Leon Buijs on May 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      What is you want ‘serious’ mail from a certain company, like invoices, but their e-mailings are hard to get rid of? Then Bayesian spam filters are more convenient, because they see much more details then humans and fine-tune the spam filter in a split second, every time you mark a mail as spam or unmark a mail in the spam box.

      • Jo Ilfeld on May 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm

        Any Bayesian filters you like best? THat sounds perfect – getting the mail you want from certain companies but not all the newsletter ones you don’t!

        • Leon Buijs on May 30, 2013 at 1:53 am

          I tried several spam filters years ago. Then, SpamSieve came out best. However, more have come since. Bayesian is a universal system so theoretically it shouldn’t matter which implementation you use. As far as I know, and from the looks of the description, Sanebox could very well be Bayesian based.

          Of course you’ll have to ‘train’ a Bayesian filter first by throwing some bad mails at it and also take the effort to correct it when it makes a mistake, but you’d have to sort out any spam from other types of filters as well. The advantage with Bayesian filters is, that it learns from every correction and will make less and less mistakes. (At least that’s how it works with SpamSieve).

  7. Himagain on May 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Jo and folks,
    The moment you become “serious” out in the “Cyberbog” (as Kylneth so aptly named it many years ago), you will be deluged with mail and the key point why any small business entrepreneur needs GMail is because it has the most useful aspect of all in that it will filter out most of the junk – and importantly – dangerous email that active people will be bombed with.
    It processes my 800+ emails per day into a readily controllable lot!
    (About 600 go directly to Junk or Spam folders).

    Of course, my comments anywhere, are primarily aimed at people seriously active trying to make money out there, but I thought I’d post this message as safety out there is becoming paramount today.
    E.G. I just looked at a message this morning which was a brilliant forgery of a PayPal “secure” communication. (Spelt as PayPall). It could have fooled me, except GMail picked it up and put it into Junk, which I do skim through every few days.
    It is a jungle out there as whatsisname said… 8-0

    • Leon Buijs on May 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      gMail is quite good but I don’t like to be dependable from Google for my mail, or any other party for that matter. Also, they know enough of my already. I like to keep my mail on my own computer, via my own private mail account. No spam filter is perfect so that’s not the point for me.

  8. Ann Oyed on June 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

    excuse me, did I read that right. I have to pay to use Sanebox, sod it, I think I’ll just use fllters, and searches, and sort it myself, thereby ensuring no third party gets to read my mail. Thanks but no thanks. And by the way I’ll risk being called a troll to bring it to peoples attention that all of the comments and suggestions on this site are actually monetised adds. There was me thinking this site was for advice when in fact it is just more browser spam. oh and whats that about the $5 credit not meaning anything to you, what about if 50 people per day clicked your link (I take it this credit has a value and if so, you are profiting) if it means so little to you then give it to somebody who needs it.

    • Jo Ilfeld on June 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Dear Ann,
      I completely understand if you don’t want to pay and want to use your own filters. This is one option – clearly Sanebox is not the only option for people to manage email and I never claim it is. I’m completely baffled by your assertion that all the comments are monitized ads. I don’t have any ads on my website and I try to only approve comments that seem legit. If an ad got through by some means – please let me know! As for the $5 credit, I offer it since otherwise people don’t get $5 off when they join. If you don’t want to use my link – don’t – I’m not hiding anything. I find your calculation of 50 people per day hysterical though. I wish my blog was popular enough to garner that attention. However even if I did get that kind of traffic – what pray tell would I do with $250 of Sanebox credit each day? I’m certainly not aware of a secondary market for credit on one site. And funny you should mention a giveaway – I’ve been thinking of doing one with my credit but worried that fault-finding people like yourself would just accuse me of scamming people or profiting from ad money in a new way.

      Clearly you haven’t read any of my other blog posts or looked around but if you did – you’d see I work hard to provide a lot of valuable content to my blog readers. I’m sorry you haven’t chosen to read any – but once again – that’s your option.


      • Leon Buijs on June 11, 2013 at 1:40 am

        There’s always the ‘free’ online mail accounts like gMail and They have filters as well. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If the product is free, it means YOU are the product.

        Meaning: Apperantly it’s economically interesting to offer you a service for free and sell the data collected. They might not sell your mail ‘uncut’ but there are other ways to make money from it.

  9. Josh on August 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Gmail has a built in: “Priority Inbox” feature which can do what sanebox does. And yes it’s hyper efficient and super awesome and customize-able!!

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