Note to self: No more emailing at 6 a.m. And maybe spend less time checking email overall.
Those are my big two takeaways from Boomerang Insights, a new tool that dives into your Gmail history to gauge your tone and measure your emailing habits. Ostensibly, the goal is to help you get better response rates and spend email time more efficiently. But it’s also a slick form of advertising for Boomerang’s browser extension, which has ways to help improve your email habits in real time.
In general, Boomerang tells me, I’m pretty good at email, thank you very much. My writing is “right in the sweet spot” between positive and negative, and I’m neither excessively polite nor rude. I write at an eighth grade reading level, which is “about average,” if a little on the complex side. And if there’s one thing I really need to work on, it’s keeping my word count down. (One possible explanation: I occasionally forward my latest 2,000-word newsletters to folks who just signed up to receive them.)
But what really caught my eye was the following chart, showing a big drop in “politeness” for early morning emails. Boomerang says politeness indicators include “attempts to minimize or apologize for imposition (sorry to bother you), or using language that reflects gratitude and positivity (thank you for your help on this).” Apparently I’m not great at doing those things when I wake up:
Granted, Boomerang’s politeness score uses machine learning models, which the company says may not be accurate, but the Insights tool also found that my writing was too highfalutin early in the morning, averaging nearly a 12th grade level. (Boomerang says the average email has about a sixth grade reading level, but writing for a third grader gets the best response rates.)
Taken as a whole, I’ve gathered that sending emails first thing in the morning is probably something to avoid. Even more concerning, though, was the frequency at which I check email in the first place:
Boomerang says that over the last 16 days, I checked my email at least 205 times, and the tool measured at least 12 distinct email sessions on average per day—a number that, to my gut, seems low if anything. The company warns that every occasion of checking email wastes 64 seconds of productivity. I imagine that checking email after waking up in the middle of the night is also a bad idea.
Boomerang isn’t just providing information, though. With each insight, the company points to a specific feature of its Gmail extension that can improve your score. You can view sentiment and reading levels in your emails while typing them, for instance, and you can hit an “Inbox Pause” button to temporarily keep new emails from causing distractions.
Most of those features are free, but Boomerang sells subscriptions for some advanced tracking and emailing features. You’ll also be limited to a 30-day analysis of your email habits on Boomerang’s free plan. If you’re wondering, Boomerang says it won’t share or sell any email data to third parties.
If you want to check out how you’re doing on email, install Boomerang for your web browser of choice, then hit the Boomerang icon in Gmail’s top-right corner and select “Boomerang Insights.” Just try not to get too upset about what you might learn in the process.